Faintness

A person who feels faint or experiences faintness, has dizziness and light-headedness and feels as if he is about to faint or lose consciousness. Faintness is a common problem in many people and has numerous causes. Common causes of faintness include dehydration, low blood pressure, hypoglycaemia, drug side effects and hyperventilation.

A person experiencing faintness may have symptoms depending on the underlying cause. Faintness or dizziness gives a person a spinning sensation named vertigo.fainting

Disclaimer: the information posted here on fainting and the feeling of about to faint is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize, prevent and manage fainting enrol in St Mark James first aid and CPR programs.

Causes

There are many conditions that may cause faintness. The common causes of faintness include:

  • Anemia
  • Acute hyperventilation
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Drug side effect
  • Emphysema
  • Emotional stress
  • Food allergy
  • Hypoglycemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Influenza
  • Low blood pressure
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Motion sickness
  • Otitis media
  • Postural hypotension
  • Sinusitis
  • Vertigo
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Vasovagal syncope
  • Vestibular neuronitis

Less common causes of faintness include:

  • Acromegaly
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cerebellar hemorrhage
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Concussion
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Decompression illness
  • Dilantin toxicity
  • Digoxin toxicity
  • Heart attack
  • Head injury
  • Herpes zoster
  • High altitude pulmonary edema
  • High altitude cerebral edema
  • Lithium toxicity
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraine headache
  • Otosclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post concussion syndrome
  • Polycythemia Vera
  • Preeclampsia
  • Shy-Drager syndrome
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Temporal lobe seizure
  • Theophylline toxicity
  • TIA
  • Thiamine deficiency

Treatment

Treatment for faintness depends on the underlying cause.

General treatment options may include:

  • Rest – plenty of bed rest and using a walker or cane to promote proper walking
  • Avoiding yourself frommaking drastic changes in posture or body positions
  • Medications to reduce faintness and vertigo
  • Avoid making sudden or jerky movements of the head
  • Take medication for other symptoms that occur with faintness such as nausea and vomiting

Home care

Follow these home care steps to reduce faintness:

  • Quit smoking and avoid passive smoking
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoid rapid and jerky movements of the head
  • Elderly people may require additional support while walking. A fall due to faintness or dizziness may result in broken bones and fractures
  • Avoid rising rapidly from sitting positions

If you feel faint, follow these steps:

  • Lie down on your back
  • Elevate your feet above heart level for 10-20 minutes to encourage circulation
  • Avoid climbing stairs to prevent falls and injuries
  • Avoid walking to prevent falls and injuries

Warning signs

See your doctor immediately if you experience the following problems along with faintness:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Black stool
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Recurrent or persistent vomiting
  • Severe vaginal bleeding
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting blood
  • Vomiting blood clots or dark clots that may looks like coffee grounds
  • Weakness on one side of the body – arm weakness, leg weakness, arm and leg weakness
  • Worsening headache

Learn More

To learn more about the signs and symptoms and how to help people that have fainted sign up for first aid and CPR classes with credible St Mark James providers.

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