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Blackouts and Fainting

Blackouts or fainting have a fancy medical name which is ‘syncope’. It actually means that you lose consciousness for a short period of time and go all floppy. Many times you know it is going to happen as you feel dizzy, sick, weak, sweaty and get tummy discomfort.

How common is it?

About one in every two people will have a fainting attack at least once during their lifetime. It is more common in teenagers and old people.

What causes blackouts to happen?

Fainting can have many cause. A common one is fear and stress, which may occur on occasions like when you are about to have blood taken at the doctors, or you see someone bleeding badly. However there are many, many other causes like suddenly standing up when you have been sitting for a long time, having a low blood sugar etc. etc.

What happens?

Most ‘blackouts’ occur due to your brain not getting enough blood, and therefore not enough oxygen to keep it functioning normally. As soon as blood, and therefore oxygen, return to your brain, you fully recovers. When you collapse you usually end up lying down and in this position more blood gets to your brain and you recover consciousness again.

What to do if someone faints

Lie the person down with their legs raised a little bit for around 10 minutes or as long as it takes for them to feel entirely OK again. This is usually all you have to do. If you have regular fainting attacks yourself and know they are going to happen, then sitting, or even better lying down, tensing your arms and legs, may help stop you from fainting completely.