Fainting – know your facts
There are many reasons why someone might suddenly feel faint or even lose consciousness, some more serious than others. However, if you do encounter this, it must be taken extremely seriously and deal with straightaway. Here’s what to look out for and how to react when someone tells you they feel faint.
Why do we faint?
Most fainting episodes are caused by a temporary glitch in the autonomic nervous system, which regulates automatic functions in the body, such as heartbeat and blood pressure. It can be caused by a number of triggers, including stress, excitement, getting up suddenly, physical over-exertion, standing up for too long and being in too hot a room. Sometimes, fainting can be symptomatic of a more serious underlying problem, so all episodes should be checked by a medical professional as soon as possible after the event.
Helping someone who feels faint
If a person has fainted, make them comfortable by removing any restrictive clothing or jewellery around their neck and covering them with a light blanket, coat etc. to keep them warm. If they don’t regain consciousness after two minutes, put them in the recovery position and call for professional medical help as a matter of urgency. The recovery position is achieved by rolling the person onto their side so they are supported by one leg and arm and then opening their airway by gently moving their head back Keep an eye on their breathing and pulse while you wait for help to arrive.
If you are the person who feels faint, there are ways to help you remain conscious. Lie down and raise your feet so they are higher than your head, using cushions or a low stool or similar. This encourages blood flow to the brain. Breathe calmly and deeply and stay still until the sensation passes. If you feel cold, use a coat or blanket to cover you. If you are having a medical procedure such as an injection or physical examination and you are concerned that you may faint, tell the doctor or nurse – you will normally be able to have the procedure lying down to prevent the risk of a fall.
Fainting can also take place if you experience problems with your blood pressure, for instance if it suddenly changes when you stand up. Medication can help with this, as can making sure you eat regularly and increase the amount of fluids you drink throughout the day. Always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or starting a new course of medication. Never come off prescribed medication without your doctor’s permission and regular monitoring as this can also cause blood pressure fluctuations, fainting episodes and other risks to the health.
Health and Safety
Finally, if you are finding yourself fainting regularly, or for no obvious reason, it is imperative you tell both your doctor and your workplace, as it can affect your ability to drive or operate machinery at work safely. There are also first aid courses you can go on to help you learn how to deal with fainting in both yourself and in other people and how to reduce the likelihood of it happening by controlling the environment you are living and working in.