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1) Fainting occurs when the blood pressure gets too low (hypotension) and the heart is not pumping a normal supply of oxygen to the brain. This is a temporary loss of consciousness due to this momentary insufficient blood flow to the brain and can occur in otherwise healthy people. The medical term for fainting or passing out is ‘syncope’.

2) One serious cause of fainting is because of abnormal heart rhythms and is triggered by underlying heart problems. Other causes are because of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or hyperventilation with or without perceived anxiety (which causes an imbalance of gases in your bloodstream). Anxiety could trigger it, and also hysteria, panic or major depression. It sometimes occurs when your blood pressure drops when you get up to stand. The common fainting spell occurs due to problems with both the heart and the nervous system.

3) Fainting also occurs when you are badly dehydrated. This happens because lack of water in the body reduces the volume of blood in the body and thereby reduces the blood flow to the brain.

4) Syncope or a sudden blackout, is a common problem. About one million people are evaluated and treated for fainting in the U.S. alone each year. It can occur without warning and result in injuries due to falling or other accidents. Some people have infrequent episodes of syncope that do not interfere with their lives. Others have repeated episodes, and for nearly a third of these people, the cause remains undetermined and untreated. They may have difficulty performing everyday activities and that may then lead to anxiety or depression. Untreated syncope especially affects older people and they frequently have injuries during episodes. Most causes of syncope can be identified and treated.

5) As the most common cause of fainting are due to heart or nervous system issues, the therapy is through drugs or pacemakers and through education and awareness. One should know this type of syncope is produced by a reflex that causes sudden dilation of the blood vessels in the legs, causing the blood to pool there. You should also keep yourself well hydrated all the time. There is usually a brief set of warning symptoms before a fainting spell. If you lie down and elevate your legs at this time, you can prevent fainting. Some people will often have occasional periods of days or weeks in which they are particularly prone to fainting episodes due to nervous system issues. Get a detailed evaluation for all cases of fainting. If you have problems with heart rhythms get a check up done by a cardiologist.

Information: Dr Sreekumar Sreedharan, Specialist Physician, Aster Union Medical Centre, Karama, Dubai