Fainting (Syncope)

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideBalance Disorders: Vertigo, Motion Sickness, Labyrinthitis, and More

Balance Disorders: Vertigo, Motion Sickness, Labyrinthitis, and More

What are the signs and symptoms of fainting (syncope)?

With fainting (syncope), the patient is unaware that they have passed out and fallen to the ground. It is only afterward that they understand what has happened.

There may be symptoms or signs before the syncopal episode, which may include:

  • The person may feel lightheaded, nauseated, sweaty, or weak. There may be a feeling of dizziness or vertigo (with the room spinning), vision may fade or blur, and there may be muffled hearing and tingling sensations in the body.
  • With pre-syncope or a near-faint, the same symptoms will occur, but the person doesn't quite lose consciousness.

During the episode, when the person is unconscious, there may a few twitches of the body which may be confused with seizure activity.

The person may have some confusion after wakening but it should resolve within a few seconds.

After a syncopal episode, there should be a quick return to normal mental function, though there may be other signs and symptoms depending upon the underlying cause of the faint. For example, if the individual is in the midst of a heart attack, he or she may complain of chest pain or pressure. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 2/3/2015
References
Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American Board of Surgery

REFERENCES:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

FIFA.com. Getting to the heart of cardiac problems.
<http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/news/newsid=1121851.html>

IMAGES:

1. MedicineNet

2. Getty Images

3. "Latidos" by josiño

4. Blausen Medical Communications

5. iStock

6. Mikael Häggström

7. NA

8. NA

9. Getty Images

10. iStock / Medscape

11. iStock

12. NA

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Fainting - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with fainting.

    Post View 88 Comments
  • Fainting (Syncope) - Treatments

    What treatment has been effective for your fainting?

    Post View 25 Comments
  • Fainting (Syncope) - Causes

    What caused your fainting (syncope)?

    Post View 13 Comments
  • Fainting (Syncope) - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with your fainting (syncope)?

    Post View 11 Comments
  • Fainting (Syncope) - Diagnosis

    After fainting, what medical tests and exams did you have? What was the diagnosis?

    Post View 2 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors