Losing consciousness, even for only a few seconds, can be a frightening experience, and we understand why you want to investigate. We’re going to start with some good news — in 75% of cases of fainting, nothing serious is in play. But what about the remaining 25%?
Here at Complete Neurological Care, our team counts fainting among the many areas in which we have extensive expertise.
In the following, we take a brief look at this common problem to help you narrow down the possible causes behind your fainting.
What happens when you faint
At the heart of fainting, which is medically known as syncope, is a sudden drop in blood flow (and oxygen) to your brain, which causes you to lose consciousness. Fainting is incredibly common and about one-third of people report fainting at some point in their lives.
With fainting, the loss of consciousness can last for a few seconds or a few minutes, and you gradually regain consciousness as blood flow is restored to your brain.
The many roads to fainting
There are many possible causes of fainting, but we’re going to first break down the condition into a few broad categories:
This is the root of most fainting and involves your vagal nerves, which are the primary nerves of your parasympathetic system.
These nerves control, among other things, your heart rate. With vasovagal syncope, the nerves signal your heart to slow down and your blood vessels to open up, which decreases blood flow to your brain.
This type of fainting is often spurred by emotional distress, fear, or panic. Other causes of vasovagal syncope include standing for long periods and even straining during coughing or a bowel movement.
This is a condition in which your blood pressure drops when you stand up from squatting, sitting, or lying down. In most cases, you experience lightheadedness or dizziness, but it can lead to fainting.
Your carotid artery is the main conduit through which blood flows to your brain. If this blood vessel is constricted, such as when you turn your head to one side, it can cut off blood to your brain and lead to fainting.
If you have an abnormal heart beat — too fast, too slow, or irregular — it can lead to fainting.
There are neurological issues that can lead to fainting, such as:
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Transient ischemic attacks, which are mini strokes
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus, which is blood on the brain
As you can see, there is a wide range of conditions and circumstances that can lead to fainting.
When to seek help
Fainting can be frightening, and we understand that you want answers. If you had a brief spell and it only happened once with no side effects, there’s generally no cause for concern.
But if your fainting is an ongoing problem, it’s definitely time to come see us. We can perform an extensive evaluation, including a review of the circumstances, your medical history, and your current health.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of fainting, please contact one of our offices in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, or Margate, Florida, to schedule an appointment.