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Fainting (cont.)

Fainting Symptoms

Unconsciousness is an obvious sign of fainting.

Vasovagal syncope

  • Before fainting, the person may feel light-headed and shaky and experience blurred vision.
  • The person may "see spots in front of their eyes."
  • During this time, observers note paleness, dilated pupils, and sweating.
  • While unconscious, the person may have low pulse rate (less than 60 beats/minute).
  • The person should quickly regain consciousness.
  • Many people have no warning signs before a fainting (syncopal) episode.

Situational syncope

  • Consciousness returns when the situation is over, usually very quickly.

Postural syncope

  • Prior to the fainting episode, the person may have noted a blood loss (black stools, heavy menstrual periods) or fluid loss (vomiting, diarrhea, fever).
  • The person may have experienced light-headedness when sitting or standing.
  • Observers may note paleness, sweating, or signs of dehydration (dry lips and tongue).

Cardiac syncope

  • The person may report palpitations (awareness of pounding, fast, or abnormal heartbeat), chest pain, or shortness of breath.
  • Observers may note a weak, abnormal pulse, paleness, or sweating.
  • Fainting often occurs without warning or following exertion.

Neurologic syncope

  • The person may have a headache, loss of balance, slurred speech, double vision, or vertigo (a feeling that the room is spinning).
  • Observers note a strong pulse during the unconscious period and normal skin color.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/27/2016

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Syncope and Related Paroxysmal Spells »

Syncope is a term used to describe the loss of consciousness from temporary disruption of cerebral oxygenation.

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