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Syncope or Fainting

Syncope means fainting or “passing out”. It happens when a low amount of oxygen is passed to the brain.

Why does someone faint?

There are many reasons for a person to faint or “pass out”. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • low blood pressure

  • a slow heartbeat

  • Seeing something frightening, shocking or unpleasant, like blood.

  • emotional upset

  • extreme embarrassment

  • Standing for a long time

  • Being in a hot and closed place

  • Taking certain medications like those for high blood pressure and heart disease


Before you faint, you may feel:

When a patient feels faint they may say that they are feeling weak, look pale (change in the color of their skin) and fall or sit slumped over (“bent over”)

  • A feeling of heaviness in the legs

  • Double vision

  • Unsure of what is happening (confusion)

  • Feeling hot or cold

  • Dizziness or a “floating” feeling

  • A feeling of sickness or nausea and or wanting to throw-up

  • Tiredness and yawning

  • Sweating



  • See a doctor to find and treat any unknown reason for the fainting

  • Consider any other reason for fainting like being in a closed room or standing for a long time and avoid repeating them

  • If you are on any long term or new mediation watch for feeling faint after taking the medication and discuss this with your doctor

  • Eat a well-balanced meal and have at least 8 hours of sleep


What to do if you feel faint or if you see somebody fainting:

  • Find somewhere safe to sit down

  • When sitting place your head between your knees

  • When getting up do it slowly

  • If someone else has fainted lie them on their back facing up

  • Try to loosen all their belts, ties, collars, and tight clothing

  • If they are not breathing call for help

  • If they are breathing but not moving or waking up for more than one minute place them on their side and call for help.