Fainting Tests Medical Course
How to Prevent Fainting
You know the feeling: being dizzy, lightheaded, having tunnel vision, and feeling clammy. Put them all together and you know you're about to faint. Have you ever wondered if you could prevent fainting before it happens? In general, the answer is yes. Whether you need to prevent yourself from fainting or prevent someone else from fainting, just a few quick fixes can make all the difference.
Preventing Yourself from Fainting
Get your blood sugar and salt levels up.Simply put, the brain needs sugar and your body needs water. To prevent your body and brain from shutting down, your salt and sugar levels need to be stable.A quick way to do this is to drink some juice and eat a small bag of pretzels. You should feel better almost immediately.
- It seems a little counter-intuitive that your body needs salt to stay hydrated, but it’s true. Water goes where the salt is; if you don’t have any salt in your system, the fluid doesn’t stay in your blood vessels.
- Pretzels and crackers also help with nausea, which is a common cause of fainting.
Keep cool.Another common reason for fainting is that the body is overheated. If you’re in a hot, stuffy environment and start to feel dizzy, it’s your body telling you to get out. Consider these ideas to get cooler:
- Shed some layers if at all possible
- Get into a less-crowded area (this way you also don’t collapse onto others)
- Get near a window or door for airflow
- Splash cool water on your face and drink a cold drink
Get hydrated with just plain water.Though sugary drinks are great for turning your brain back on when it's running on empty, your entire body needs straight up healthy, pure hydration too, in the form of plain, unflavored water. You probably know if you’re getting enough or not. If you faint regularly, it could be because you just don’t drink enough.
- Ideally, your urine should be clear or nearly clear and you should urinate every three to four hours. If your urine is very yellow or you are urinating less frequently, drink more water. If that’s too boring for your taste buds, teas and unsweetened fruit juices are good, too.
Lie down and don’t get up too quickly.If you're feeling the slightest bit faint, lie down. Stay down for at least 15 minutes. Once you feel better, get up slowly. Putting your body into a vertical position means that in order for blood to get to your brain, it has to fight gravity. When you get up too quickly, that blood immediately drops down and leaves your brain wondering what happened. This can bring on the sense of fainting. If this is the culprit, move slowly, especially while getting out of bed.
- This goes double if you've just fainted. Whenever you're feeling weak or dizzy, always move slowly and with caution. This is your body telling you it can't keep up with your pace. Give it a break and lie down.
Control your breathing.When we’re anxious, it’s natural to start breathing quickly and even hyperventilate. If this gets out of control, your brain will stop receiving oxygen; you’re not breathing deeply enough for it to process what it needs. If you think your fainting may be due to nervousness, concentrating on your breathing and slowing it down may make the urge disappear.
- Count as you breathe: 6 seconds inhaling and 8 seconds exhaling. After a few rounds, you may find that your anxiety is dissipating.
- Focusing on your breathing also distracts you from whatever it is that's making you nervous. This is another reason it may be easier to calm down.
Try visualization if anxiety is causing your fainting.Pick a place or situation that calms you, like the beach or your favorite park bench. When you feel anxiety coming on, imagine your peaceful scene.
- Try to imagine your scene in as much detail as possible. Think about sights, smells, sounds, and maybe even tastes.
Avoid your triggers.Blood sugar and salt levels, heat, and hydration are very common reasons for fainting and, in most cases, aren’t cause for alarm. However, there are a few other things that cause certain individuals to faint. If you know what triggers the urge for you, avoid it. Be sure to tell friends and medical professionals about your trigger so they can be prepared. Many things can trigger fainting, but here are the most common ones:
- Alcohol. In a few unfortunate souls, alcohol leads to fainting.It’s because alcohol expands the blood vessels, leading to a drop in blood pressure.
- Needles, blood, injuries or related phobias. In some individuals, certain phobias can trigger the vagus nerve which widens blood vessels, slows the heart rate, and drops blood pressure, resulting in fainting.
- Emotions. Severe emotions, like fear and anxiety, can change breathing and cause a drop in blood pressure, amongst other negative effects that can lead to fainting.
Consider changing your medications.The side effects of certain medications include fainting and dizziness. If you’ve just started a new medication and have just started experiencing the urge to faint, talk to your doctor to switch. It's likely that your medication is the culprit.
- If your medication isn’t vital, consider stopping it to prevent more fainting. Then, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss switching medications.
- Fainting is, in general, not serious. However, if you do faint, you may hurt yourself during your fall. This is the main reason it’s important to switch medications if at all possible.
Preventing Someone Else from Fainting
Get them sitting or lying down.What it all boils down to is that the brain needs blood and oxygen to properly function. If you see someone who’s pale and complains of dizziness and fatigue, get them to lie down in an open area - they're probably going to faint.
- If there's no place for them to lie down, have them sit with their head between their knees. This isn't as good as fully lying down, but it should stave off the urge to faint, at least for the time being.
Make sure they’re well ventilated.Someone fainting in a crowd of people is not uncommon, largely because it's so hot and there's no airflow between bodies. If you're with someone who's about to faint, get them in an open area where air can flow and the temperature isn't too hot and stuffy.
- If you're stuck in a room and there aren't a lot of options, get them near an open door or window. Just a bit more airflow can make all the difference, even if the room is still too hot for comfort.
- Remove constricting clothing items like ties, belts, and shoes.
Get them some juice and crackers.The brain perks up with salt and sugar. It's highly likely they need hydration and energy, so a slightly sugary drink and a small amount of salt is best to get their brain back in the game. Help them drink and eat if need be; they may not have the energy.
- The salt is actually for hydration. When there's salt in the body, the body then sends water to it. With no salt, water doesn't get processed into the cells it needs to be a part of.
Ask them questions about themselves.This will help you assess the cause of the fainting, offer help, and contact their family. Think about the information you’ll need after they’ve fainted,
- Ask when they last ate, if they are pregnant, and if they have any medical conditions you should know about.
- Ask for a close relative or friend’s phone number.
Help them stay calm.A first-time fainter will likely be scared by what they're feeling. They may have blurry vision, be unable to hear properly, and may have a very difficult time standing up. This stage can last minutes before the faint eventually happens or the urge goes away. Let them know that they're likely going to faint, but all will be fine once it's finally over.
- Assure them that most fainting isn't dangerous. As long as they don't hit their head (which you will make sure doesn't happen), in a few minutes they'll be fine again.
Stay by their side and get someone else to call for help.If this person is about to faint, be sure to stay by their side to quite literally catch them if they fall. Do not leave them for help unless you absolutely positively have to. They need you for moral support, too.
- Instead, flag down someone, even if it's a stranger 50 feet (15.2 m) away. Tell them that the person you're with has fainted and you need them to call an ambulance.
- You should always call an ambulance, even if the person seems to have recovered, because fainting could be a sign of internal bleeding or another serious medical issue.
- In addition to calling an ambulance, they may be able to bring some water and a snack.
Handling a Fainting Spell
Whatever happens, get down.Even if you skip all the other steps, if you get yourself down to the ground, you'll likely be fine. If you do this consciously, you will not hurt yourself. If you do it unconsciously, you could seriously hurt yourself. Lying down is your number one rule.
- What was the number one rule? That's right:lie down.It will save you possible injury and your behavior will likely alert those around you that something is wrong. What's more, once you get down, you'll be a lot more comfortable.
Alert someone to get help.If you're in a school or a public area, tell the person nearest you that you're going to faint and to get help. After this, lie down. Ideally, someone will come to you with a snack and some water and help you handle the situation when you come to.
Get away from objects that could hurt you.You'll likely have about a minute or so (more or less, depending on the spell) of warning that you're going to faint. In this time, try to think about getting into an open area where you can lie down.
- Whatever you do, get away from stairs. If you faint, you could fall down them, gravely injuring yourself. The same goes for pointy edges of tables and desks.
Tense the muscles in your arms and legs.Fainting is generally caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain. Tensing your muscles in your limbs increases your blood pressure, which can stave off a fainting spell.This can be done before a fainting spell and in general, just to make sure your blood pressure is up.
- Get into a squatting position (holding your balance against a wall, just in case) and tense your leg muscles repeatedly
- Clasp your hands together in front of you and tense your arm muscles repeatedly.
- If you're sitting, consider crossing your legs. This is commonly recommended for people who often faint when having blood drawn, for example.
- Try these a few times - if it doesn’t seem to be working, move to a laying down position instead.
Consider tilt training.People who faint regularly due to medication sometimes find that they can train their bodies to fight it. One common method is “tilt training,” where you stand up against a wall with your heels about six inches (15 cm) away from it. You keep this position for about 5 minutes without moving. For some reason, it “uncrosses the wires” in your brain, staving off a spell.
- Try to practice this in larger and larger increments, until you can do it for about 20 minutes at a time without feeling faint. This is a practice you do over time, preventing fainting from coming on - it's not to be used in the heat of the moment.
- Note that it’s not normal to faint regularly from medication. If you or someone you know is experiencing this, talk to a doctor about a medication change.
Snack on something salty, like crackers.If you have the energy, grab a salty snack to munch on. Alternatively, ask someone near you to find you a snack (let them know you're feeling faint). And if fainting is common for you, carry around a snack with you for a situation such as this.
- A bit of juice or water won't hurt, either. Your body needs hydration, and salty snacks and juice or water is the best thing for it.
Seek medical attention if you faint more than once.A one-time fainting spell could have been a fluke, but multiple spells could indicate a more serious medical issue. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
QuestionI've tried all the tips in this article and nothing works--I'm still fainting. What should I do?
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerSee a doctor as soon as possible. They can conduct a thorough investigation to figure out why you're fainting.Thanks!
QuestionI believe that a lack of oxygen is making me feel like I'm going to pass out. What should I do?
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerIf the issue is your breathing, try taking deep breaths. If the issue is a poorly ventilated or over-crowded environment, step outside for some fresh air or open a window.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I feel faint while driving?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPull your car over to side of the road. Roll down the windows and wait until you feel better. If you think it's serious, call an ambulance.Thanks!
QuestionCan someone faint in the morning?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can faint at any time of the day. It does not really matter. Fainting isn't caused by a certain time of day, so you can faint in the morning, afternoon and night.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I feel like fainting in the middle of a mass at school?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell someone that you're going to faint. Then sit on the ground until the feeling passes.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I faint in church?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf a fainting spell strikes while you are in church, attempt to alert a family member or friend attending with you before you go under. If you are attending alone, alert the person sitting next to you that you are feeling faint. Regardless of where you are, you should always get to the ground level if you feel like you might faint.Thanks!
QuestionAt what age can someone start fainting?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsually there isn't an age to begin fainting. It can happen to anyone at anytime. However, you are more prone to fainting spells if you are pregnant, elderly, a medical student, or female.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I prevent fainting if I'm in the middle of a test?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe best thing to do is alert someone who can help you. It might be better to have someone help you than to keep it a secret. At the time, don't worry about the exam, you can discuss this with your teachers later.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I prevent myself from fainting during a wedding as a bridesmaid?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNever lock your knees when standing for long periods of time. This will almost cerainly cause you to faint. Make sure to drink plenty of water prior to the event.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I feel faint and no one is around?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCall an ambulance if it's an emergency (serious). Or, just try drinking some water, eating a cracker or two and lying down. You will wake up at some point.Thanks!
- Fainting is commonly brought on by a temporary lack of blood flow to the brain.
- You should seek medical assistance if you have repeated / constant fainting spells.
- Fainting is mostly caused by standing up too fast, dehydration, medications or extreme emotions.
- Sucking on a barley sugar raises the amount of glucose in a person's body. Before any sort of event in which you may faint, consider doing this.
- Even after you try some of those tips you still may feel a little dizzy so another good way to help you from fainting is to lay on the floor and stick both of your feet up for a couple of minutes. Another good way is to kneel down and cross your legs together and put your head in between the legs.
- The trick is to get blood in your head. Try to make your face red the natural way.
- If you have other symptoms – headache, back pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, weakness, or loss of function, seek medical help immediately.
- If you are driving when you start to feel faint, pull over to a safe place.
- Many people have been seriously injured fainting in the bathroom late at night. Low blood pressure is a probable cause. Have a nightlight in the bathroom, take it slow when getting out of bed, and sit while using the toilet.
Sources and Citations
- Pre-Hospital Emergency Care EMT – 1 BOOK By Bledsoe Porter Cherry
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