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Learn about the causes of Fainting & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Fainting within New Zealand.

Fainting (or syncope pronounced sin-ko-pea) is a complete/ partial loss of consciousness due to sufficient oxygen reaching the brain. Roots causes could be lack of food, fluids, sleep, low blood pressure or hypoglycaemia, or even lack of sleep. Early signals of this condition are feeling hot, blurred vision, tinnitus, reduced peripheral vision & brownout (dimming of light accompanied by a brown hue). This is folllowed moments later by the vision turning black and the person collapsing


Causes of fainting

Fainting | The Wellness DirectoryFainting is the brain's defence mechanism when oxygen and blood supply falls too low for it to function properly. By taking any available blood and oxygen away from other parts of the body breathing rate increases (hyperventilation) and the heart rate rises as more blood is pumped to the brain.

An increase in heart rate causes low blood pressure (hypotension) in the body and when combined with hyperventilation the resulting effect can be a loss of consciousness and weakness in the muscles which causes someone to faint.

There are different types of fainting and each will describe the underlying reasons as to why blood flow to the brain is interrupted.

Neurocardiogenic fainting/syncope
– this is the most common cause of fainting and is a short-term malfunction of the autonomous nervous system which leads to a drop in blood pressure and blood flow to the brain. The sight of blood, standing for long periods, being in a hot environment with little air or a sudden episode of stress, anxiety, upset or fear can trigger neurocardiogenic syncope.  

Occupational fainting/syncope
– this is caused by a sudden strain on the automatic nervous system by a bodily function or activity such as coughing, sneezing, using the toilet or strenuous exercise such as lifting weights.

Orthostatic hypotension
– this type of fainting occurs when standing up from a seated position or from lying down. The nervous system counteracts the effect of gravity drawing blood to the legs and reducing blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels and making the heart beat faster. When something interrupts this process blood pressure doesn't stabilise properly leading to fainting.

The main causes of this type of fainting include:

  • Dehydration – a lack of fluid in the blood reduces blood pressure making it harder for the automatic nervous system to stabilise it.
  • Diabetes – Frequently urinating because of diabetes leads to excess blood sugar levels which damages the blood pressure regulating nerves.
  • Medications – certain drugs such as antidepressants, diuretics and beta-blockers can trigger this type of fainting
  • Neurological conditions – such as Parkinson's disease

Carotid sinus syndrome
– this is an abnormality in the main artery of the neck that supplies blood to the brain (known as the carotid artery). A hypersensitive carotid artery which is stimulated by physical movement or a restriction (such as turning your head to the side or wearing tight-fitting collars) can trigger sensors which drop blood pressure.

Cardiac fainting/syncope
– an underlying problem with the heart can cause an interruption of blood supply to the brain. Common causes of cardiac syncope include: heart valve blockages, high blood pressure, heart attack and abnormal heart rhythms.


Symptoms of fainting

The symptoms of fainting typically begin with feeling weak and unsteady which is quickly followed by passing out for a brief moment (usually just a few seconds).

Fainting can occur when you're on your feet, sitting down or when getting up too quickly. Before fainting you may experience symptoms which suggest you're about to lose consciousness.

These symptoms include:

  • Rapid breaths
  • Blurry vision
  • Spots before your eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Feeling sick
  • Clammy hands
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
These symptoms may last for a few seconds giving you very little warning. By fainting and falling to the ground your body is putting the head and heart at the same level making it easier for the heart to pump blood to the brain. Shortly after fainting you should regain consciousness although you may feel weak and confused for the next half an hour.


Diagnosis of fainting

The majority of fainting cases do not represent a cause for concern but you should seek medical assessment from your GP if you've had no previous history of fainting or the fainting occurs frequently.

If you're diabetic, pregnant or have a history of heart disease you should visit your GP. If the fainting is accompanied by chest pain or an irregular heartbeat, or if you take a long time to regain consciousness after fainting seek medical attention.

A GP will perform a physical examination and listen to your heart beat using a stethoscope to check for any underlying heart conditions. They may send you for further tests such as an ECG (electrocardiogram) to record your heart's rhythm and electrical activity.

Other tests for fainting include blood tests to rule out diabetes or anaemia and a tilt-table test which is designed to make you feel light-headed in order to diagnose orthostatic  hypotension.

*Source: GoToSee.co.uk

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