Fainting and losing control for a moment is worrying. Behind the unconsciousness usually quite harmless causes are stuck, such as low blood pressure. Often, symptoms such as dizziness, sweats, or nausea appear just before you pass out. In other causes, such as cardiac arrhythmia, however, the fainting does not announce before, but occurs quite suddenly. We reveal what causes behind a powerlessness and how you should behave in an emergency.
Causes of powerlessness
A brief fainting spell - usually lasting only a few seconds - is called syncope. If the unconsciousness lasts longer, it is called a coma. Syncope is triggered by a temporary circulatory disorder in the brain. The causes of this circulatory disorder are manifold and can not always be determined with hindsight. In addition to harmless triggers such as low blood pressure, serious illnesses can also be considered as the cause.
In general, the causes of fainting can be divided into four groups:
- Orthostatic syncope
- Vasovagal syncope
- Cardiac syncope
- Cerebrovascular syncope
Orthostatic and vasovagal syncope
Often a fainting is caused by a collapse of the circulation - a circulatory collapse. This is favored by various factors, such as low blood pressure. But also a lack of fluid and varicose veins are considered risk factors. Typically, the powerlessness occurs in such a case in too fast a change from lying or sitting to a halt. The blood in the leg vessels collapses and the brain is no longer supplied with enough oxygen.
A vasovagal syncope is caused by too strong a reflex response of the body. When certain stimuli occur, the vagus nerve automatically ensures that the blood vessels are placed wide and the heart rate decreases. As a result, the blood sank down and the brain is no longer sufficiently supplied with blood - it comes to a fainting. Triggers can include psychological stress, cold, pain, anxiety, bad news or a happy event.
Cardiac and cerebrovascular syncope
Cardiac syncope is triggered by heart failure and is therefore particularly dangerous. Most of the time it is cardiac arrhythmias that affect the blood circulation. But also structural changes of the heart tissue can cause a powerlessness. The dangerous thing is that the heart stops at a cardiac syncope without warning. This causes the fainting suddenly and without previous symptoms. If the heart continues to beat, the affected person wakes up again. However, this is not always the case - sometimes a sudden cardiac death (second death) occurs.
In a cerebrovascular syncope the fainting is triggered by a so-called tapping phenomenon. A tapping phenomenon manifests itself as follows: A vascular occlusion in the body leads to an undersupply of the area behind it. This area taps the blood supply to another area via another vessel. If blood is tapped out of a vessel that supplies the brain, it can lead to an undersupply in the brain and consequently to a fainting.
Fainting during pregnancy
Pregnant women may experience fainting at the end of pregnancy. The cause is the so-called vena cava compression syndrome. The pressure of the child on the inferior vena cava impairs blood flow to the heart. If the heart is no longer sufficiently filled with blood, it can cause a fainting.
The syndrome usually occurs in the last third of the pregnancy when the child is already weight bearing. As the vena cava lies behind the uterus, unconsciousness is caused by prolonged lying on the back. That's why pregnant women should prefer the lateral position when lying down.
Nausea and dizziness as symptoms
Just before you faint, you may experience symptoms that point to impending syncope. Typical alarm signs are paleness, tiredness, tinnitus, sweating, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea. However, a fainting syndrome can occur even without previous symptoms - this is usually the case in fainting fits that occur due to a disease of the heart.
At the first symptoms of fainting, you should immediately sit down or even better lie down. Store your legs high - so the blood flows back faster towards the head. If there is no seating or lying in the vicinity, it also helps to tense the muscles strong. As a result, the vessels are compressed and the blood is pressed towards the heart.
For example, you can do the following exercises:
- Cross your legs while standing and then tense the muscles of the abdomen, legs and buttocks.
- Put your hands in front of your chest, cross your fingers and then pull out as hard as you can with both arms.
- Take a rubber ball or other object in your hand and knead it vigorously.
Powerlessness: what to do?
After fainting you should always consult a doctor. He can make sure that it is actually a syncope and not a vascular circulatory disorder in the brain. The classic clinical picture in such a case is a stroke. In addition, the doctor can check whether a disease of the heart - such as cardiac arrhythmia - as a cause in question. If this is the case, the disease must be treated accordingly. You may need to use a pacemaker or a defibrillator.
But do not take a fainting attack lightly if it has a harmless trigger. Because the loss of consciousness is always associated with risks - so can fall through head injuries, fractures and bruises occur. Therefore, you should seek advice from your doctor on how to prevent another fainting episode.
You can prevent fainting, especially if it is an orthostatic syncope. On the one hand, the doctor can prescribe medication that strengthens the circulation. On the other hand, you can also do a few things yourself to make your circulation more stable. For example, regular exercise, changing showers and lots of drinking are helpful.
When you see a person faint, it is important to respond quickly and correctly. First, check that the person is actually unconscious. To do this, pat her on the cheeks or gently shake her shoulders. Also, make sure she gets fresh air.
If only a slight fainting, the person concerned will wake up quickly. If the person does not wake up directly when breathing independently, it should be placed in a stable side position. If the person does not respond to the shaking and you can not detect any breathing, immediately call an emergency physician and initiate resuscitation.
Attention: When performing first aid on an unconscious person, bear in mind that there are other types of unconsciousness besides syncope. In diabetics, for example, a fainting syndrome can also be triggered by a hypostasis shock.