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Syncope is the medical term for fainting. When a person loses consciousness for whatever reason, that person is said to have syncope. It may sound straightforward, but if we get deeper into what causes syncope, it gets more complicated. People do not usually have a fainting spell without any explanation.
For the most part, you should not worry if you experience syncope. It may seem like a scary condition. But usually, it is not a cause for concern. Most people who experience syncope recover after a few minutes, and do not experience any long-term problems. However, certain serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, can also cause fainting.
Being informed about syncope, what causes syncope, and what other serious symptoms you should watch out for can help keep yourself and other people safe.
About 30% of men and 35% of women experience syncope at one point in their lives. It is a common occurrence. It can happen at any age, but people above 75 are prone to experiencing syncope. In non-elderly people, over 75 percent of cases of syncope are not associated with an underlying medical problem.
It is possible for people who experience syncope to not encounter any symptoms at all. But there are symptoms that people experience during pre-syncope, or the moment right before fainting. Here are some of the warning signs:
If you are fit and healthy, and it is your first time to experience fainting, there usually is no need to see your doctor, especially if you feel fine afterward. But if you are aged 40 and older, then it might be a good idea to get in touch with your doctor. Syncope can sometimes be a symptom of conditions that appear as you grow older, like heart disease.
For those who frequently have fainting spells, talk to your doctor as it may be a sign of a heart problem.
Syncope happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen for a short time. There are three general types of syncope:
Vasovagal syncope is the most common and the least worrying type of syncope. This condition happens when something causes your blood pressure to drop, cutting off some of the blood supply to the brain suddenly. An emotional response, such as seeing blood or getting surprised, causes this type of syncope. It can also sometimes be triggered by straining during defecation, urination, coughing or sneezing, lifting weights, or eating a meal.
Cardiac syncope is a more serious form of syncope. Heart-related issues are usually the cause, as the name suggests. People with this type of syncope usually experience it more than once. Arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat and issues in the arteries trigger this type of syncope. People who experience this typically condition do not have the usual pre-syncope symptoms.
In this type of syncope, your blood pressure drops when you stand or sit up. Gravity makes it difficult for the blood to flow to your brain.
Usually, you may have orthostatic hypotension when you do not drink enough water, take certain medicines that lower your BP, or drink too much alcohol.
Now that we have an idea of what causes syncope, let us move on to the risk factors for this condition. Here is a quick rundown:
Risk factors for heart disease can also increase a person’s risk of experiencing syncope.
Diagnosing the root cause of syncope can be done through tests. Your doctor might ask you to undergo some of the following:
The results of these can help determine if your syncope is related to an underlying condition, such as a heart problem. In some cases, it is nothing to cause worry.
If your doctor sees a problem that might be causing you to faint frequently, then you will need to undergo treatment.
Treatment for syncope varies depending on what condition is causing you to faint. It is usually done to both treat the underlying condition and prevent future fainting spells from happening.
If you have a heart condition, then it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor to figure out what steps you can take in terms of treatment. Discuss your condition with your doctor to find the treatment that would work best for you.
Here are some ways to help prevent syncope:
For the most part, syncope should not cause too much concern. However, it is still a good idea to be informed about what causes syncope and how to prevent it to avoid any health problems in the future.
As always, it is important to listen to your body and be mindful of any new symptoms that occur. If you feel that there is something wrong, do not hesitate to consult your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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