FAINTING (Blackout; Syncope)
DESCRIPTIONFainting is a sudden, temporary loss of consciousness. The circulatory system (heart and blood vessels) and brain are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Care from bystanders.
Self-care after regaining consciousness.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSSudden lightheadedness.
Blurred vision (sometimes).
General weakness, then falling.
Paleness and sweating.
Rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing. If your child's heartbeat or breathing is not present, this may be cardiac arrest rather than fainting.
CAUSESHeartbeat abnormalities--too fast, too slow, or irregular.
Prolonged straining, such as from severe coughing or attempted bowel movements when constipated.
Prolonged standing in unusually hot weather.
Standing for unusually long periods with the knees locked (any temperature).
Sudden emotional stress.
Heart diseases that limit the amount of blood the child's heart pumps.
Getting out of bed or a chair suddenly (orthostatic hypotension).
Low blood sugar.
Heart attack (rare).
A sudden decrease in blood pressure, which temporarily deprives the brain of blood. The drop in blood pressure may result from:
Use of certain drugs, such as heart medications that slow the heartbeat. These include digitalis, beta-adrenergic blockers, and other anti-hypertensive drugs.
Hot, humid weather.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your child should avoid sudden changes in physical activity.
If your child's fainting episodes are caused by medication, consult your doctor about changing drugs.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Injury while fainting.
Mistaking cardiac arrest for fainting.
Simple fainting disappears in 1 or 2 minutes.
If your child faints, check for breathing and a neck pulse. If neither is present:
-- Dial 0 (operator) or 911 (emergency) for an ambulance or medical help. Then give first aid immediately.
-- Begin cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth breathing (CPR). Don't stop until help arrives.
If your child faints, is breathing, and has a pulse, leave the child on the ground and elevate both legs. This helps return blood to the heart.
If your child feels faint, urge the child to sit down immediately and bend over, or lie down.
If your child is subject to frequent fainting spells, urge the child to avoid activities in which fainting may endanger life, such as climbing to high places, driving vehicles, or operating dangerous machinery.
Medication usually is not necessary for fainting. Medication may be necessary to treat the child's underlying disorders.
Your child can resume normal activities upon regaining consciousness.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet unless your child's fainting episodes are caused by low blood sugar. If so, your child should eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. The meals should be high
in protein, high in complex carbohydrates, and low in simple carbohydrates (sugar).
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when underlying cause is under control.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your unconscious child has no pulse and is not breathing. Give CPR immediately and have someone else call. This is an emergency!
Your child faints and does not regain consciousness in 2 minutes.