Feeling Faint......What Is Syncope?

Syncope, is defined in the MedicineNet.com Medical Dictionary, www.MedTerms.com as a partial or complete loss of consciousness with interruption of awareness of oneself and ones surroundings. When the loss of consciousness is temporary and there is spontaneous recovery, it is referred to as syncope or, in nonmedical quarters, fainting. Syncope accounts for one in every 30 visits to an emergency room. It is pronounced sin-ko-pea.

Syncope is due to a temporary reduction in blood flow and therefore a shortage of oxygen to the brain. This leads to lightheadedness or a "black out" episode, a loss of consciousness. Temporary impairment of the blood supply to the brain can be caused by heart conditions and by conditions that do not directly involve the heart.

Fainting is not unusual in children and is referred to as neurally mediated syncope (NMI). This is a benign (harmless) form of fainting that is common in children and teenagers. However, any child (or adult for that matter) who experiences fainting "for no good reason" should be evaluated by their physician, according to the AHA.

For more, please visit the MedicineNet.com Fainting Center.

Last Editorial Review: 10/23/2002

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