Find Out Why We Faint

Fainting is very frequent in places where it's very hot and there's not good ventilation. Underlying diseases like heart disease, dehydration, and diabetes are also a factor. Find out why we faint in the following article.
Find Out Why We Faint

Last update: 11 April, 2021

Fainting is a more frequent situation than we would imagine. It consists of a temporary loss of consciousness due to insufficient blood supply to the brain. However, do you know why this happens and why we faint?

The truth is that it’s a problem that can have multiple causes. It’s a situation that tends to resolve itself and the person regains consciousness soon after. However, it’s important to investigate what caused the fainting, as it can often be a major health problem.

The medical term used to refer to this is syncope. According to statistics, up to 3% of emergency room visits are for this reason. Therefore, in this article, we’ll explain why we faint and what to do about it.

Why do we faint?

When we faint, what happens is that there’s a drop in blood pressure. This drop causes the blood flow to the brain to decrease. If this flow stops for about 6 seconds, we lose consciousness.

Almost 20% of the population has fainted at some time in their lives. There are many possible causes of this problem. First of all, the environment’s very important.

We often faint because we’re in a place where there’s a crowd of people and temperatures are high. For example, during a concert. These places are often poorly ventilated, which increases the possibility of syncope.

Another frequent and benign cause is sudden changes in posture. Spending a long time standing up, or standing up abruptly after lying down, can cause an abrupt change in blood flow.

As mentioned above, oxygen deprivation is also related to this. Interestingly, if we breathe too quickly, the tone of the blood vessels is altered and they constrict, causing less blood to reach the brain.

A man lying on the floor unconscious.
Fainting has multiple causes, and the medical term is syncope.

You might like: Cervicogenic Dizziness: Causes and Remedies

Do we faint because of illnesses?

The truth is that, although there are benign causes for why we faint, such as those just explained, it can also be a symptom of some illness. For example, a cardiovascular problem.

It’s not uncommon for it to appear due to hypoglycemia. This situation is typical of people with diabetes who are treated with insulin. We often even faint as a result of a psychological disorder, such as anxiety.

It should be noted that states of malnutrition or dehydration can also cause fainting. This is important, for example, in people with anorexia nervosa. People suffering from severe diarrhea should also be monitored, as syncope could be a warning sign of uncontrolled fluid loss.

Another cause of fainting is seizures. These are the results of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Not all seizures manifest with sudden jerks as people think, but many times the symptoms are much more subtle.

A dad holding up his teenage daughter who's about to faint.
Fainting may be a symptom of an illness that’s present in the patient.

You may be interested in: The Relationship Between Tachycardia and Anxiety

What to do in this situation?

Ideally, when we faint, it’s best to find out the cause. If you can relate it to a specific situation, such as a heat stroke or a panic attack, solving that problem is a priority.

However, if you don’t know why it happened, or even if you do, it’s best to see a doctor. You need to investigate to find the cause of the problem and check that there’s no underlying disease.

When you feel weak or dizzy, on the verge of fainting, it’s important to try lying down. Putting your legs up can help blood flow more easily to the brain. You can also try sitting with your head between your knees.

When you are going to get up, don’t get up abruptly, but gradually. In addition, to avoid fainting, it’s important to stay hydrated. Likewise, you should avoid very hot and crowded places.

The truth is that some people are more prone to fainting. Therefore, these tips can be useful to prevent an episode. Likewise, as we’ve already indicated, it’s always advisable to consult a doctor.

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Vasovagal Syncope: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
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Vasovagal Syncope: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Vasovagal syncope is a short-lived malaise which manifests as a loss of consciousness for a brief period. It's happened to most adults.