Fainting - Describe Your Experience

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Introduction to fainting (syncope)

Fainting, "blacking out," or syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness followed by the return to full wakefulness. This loss of consciousness may be accompanied by loss of muscle tone that can result in falling or slumping over. To better understand why fainting can occur; it is helpful to explain why somebody is awake.

The brain has multiple parts, including two hemispheres, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. The brain requires blood flow to provide oxygen and glucose (sugar) to its cells to sustain life. For the body to be awake, an area known as the reticular activating system located in the brain stem needs to be turned on, and at least one brain hemisphere needs to be functioning. For fainting or syncope to occur, either the reticular activating system needs to lose its blood supply, or both hemispheres of the brain need to be deprived of blood, oxygen, or glucose. If blood sugar levels are normal blood flow must be briefly disrupted to the whole brain or to the reticular activating system.

Fainting is not caused by head trauma, since loss of consciousness after a head injury is considered a concussion. However, fainting can cause injury if the person falls and hurts themselves, or if the faint occurs while participating in an activity like driving a car.

Fainting is differentiated from seizure, during which patients may also lose consciousness.

Return to Fainting (Syncope)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Looking for a cure, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 01

I faint several minutes after receiving dental injections of epinephrine, or of mepivacaine or Carbocaine. There is no cure. Now no dentist will work on me because they have no other injection to use. Even the university dental schools have no answer.

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Comment from: Misty, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

I have had several fainting experiences over the last year or more, where I"m standing, then have to sit as I feel the symptoms of fainting surfacing. Always, the following day I wake up with my body aching. The body aches can last anywhere from one day to 2 weeks, and also leave me feeling very weak.

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