Fainting (syncope)is a sudden temporary loss of consciousness that usually results in a fall.

When you faint, you'll feel weak and unsteady before passing out for a short period of time, usually only a few seconds.

There may not be any warning symptoms, but some people experience:

  • yawning
  • a sudden, clammy sweat
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • fast, deep breathing
  • confusion
  • lightheadedness
  • blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
  • ringing in your ears

This will encourage blood flow to yourbrain.

If it's not possible to lie down, sit with your head between your knees. If you think someone is about to faint, you should help them lie down or sit with their head between their knees.

If a person faints and doesn't regain consciousness within one or two minutes, put them into the recovery position .

You should then dial 999, ask for an ambulance and stay with the person until medical help arrives.

When to see your GP

Most cases of fainting aren't a cause for concern and don't require treatment,but less common types of fainting can be medical emergencies.

You should see your GP after faintingif you:

  • have no previous history of fainting
  • experience repeated episodes of fainting
  • injure yourself during a faint
  • have diabetes a lifelong condition that causes your blood glucose level to become too high
  • are pregnant
  • have a history of Coronary heart disease where your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted
  • experienced chest pains , an irregular heartbeat , or a pounding heartbeat before you lost consciousness
  • experienced a loss of bladder or bowel control
  • took longer than a few minutes to regain consciousness

If your first episode of fainting occursafter 40, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.

Fainting can occur when the blood flow to the brain is reduced.

Your body usually corrects reduced blood flow to the brain quickly,but it can make you feel odd, sweaty and dizzy. If it lasts long enough, you may faint.

Reduced blood flow to the brain isoften caused bya temporary problem withthe part of your nervous system thatregulates the body's automatic functions, including heartbeat and blood pressure.

This type of fainting is called neurally mediated syncope. It can be triggered by:

  • emotional stress
  • pain
  • prolonged standing
  • physical processes, such as coughing , sneezing or laughing

Treatment forfainting

Treatment for fainting will depend on the type you're experiencing. In many cases of neurally mediated syncope, no further treatment is needed.

If you've had a fainting episode, you can avoid it happening again by:

  • avoiding triggerssuch as hot and crowded environments, or emotional stress
  • spotting the warning signs, such as feeling lightheaded, and lying down to increase blood flow to the brain

Veins are a type of blood vessel. They carry blood back to the heart.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Dec 2016