Fainting (Syncope) - Symptoms

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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.

Return to Fainting (Syncope)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Angela, Female (Patient) Published: November 25

It is strange, because I have passed out 4 times in my life and every time I am still aware, able to lean on somebody before falling, able to feel myself falling and getting picked up and carried to lie down. I can hear everyone around me and can respond. The other day I passed out on my boyfriend's shoulder and told him I passed out. The whole time I was basically telling him what to do, that he needed to carry me, and once he placed me down that he needed to move the pillows he rested my head on because I needed to be flat lying down. Once I'm out lying flat I open my eyes immediately. I am never confused and know exactly what happened the whole time. All that happens is I feel dizzy, fall into someone's arms, eyes shut and unable to move. And I feel heavy. But I am aware the whole time of what is going on. This happened four times in total, in the same way. One for not crying from injury, one from too strong acupuncture, one from alcohol, and the last from tiredness followed by a hot bubble bath. I wonder if this still fainting or something else!

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Comment from: rickey, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 27

There are times when I cough so hard that I pass out for a few minutes but I am not all the way passed out. At times I understand what someone is saying to me but cannot speak. In a few minutes I am back to normal. When I get bronchitis I coughed so hard I got a small tear in belly button and I have to have codeine cough medicines to stop coughing and passing out. At another time I heard a funny show on radio and laughed so much I almost passed out. Now I don't laugh too much or I will start coughing and pass out. Doctors told me it's a cough syncope but not much help.

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