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FAINTING

Known medically as syncope, fainting is the term used to describe a person losing consciousness as a result of blood flow to the brain being significantly reduced. Many times, fainting is caused by either a significant drop in blood pressure or from a heart rate which is very slow. Either situation results in a sudden reduction of blood flow to the brain, which causes a loss of consciousness.

In most cases, fainting is due to vasovagal syncope. Vasovagal syncope is triggered by a stimulus that causes the autonomic nervous system which regulates involuntary body functions, including heart rate and blood flow to have an exaggerated and inappropriate response. When this happens, both the heart rate and blood pressure drop. As a result blood flow to the brain is reduced and loss of consciousness occurs. When a person faints due to vasovagal syncope, they typically recover quickly, usually within seconds or a few minutes.

Vasovagal syncope can be triggered by numerous things including standing for long periods of time, dehydration, the sight of blood, coughing, urination, having a bowel movement and emotional distress. But in some cases, experts cannot determine the cause of vasovagal syncope.

Fainting is a common occurrence in people, and in most cases treatment is not necessary. However, sometimes fainting can be a sign or symptom of an underlying disease for which treatment may be needed.

Prior to a faint due to vasovagal syncope, a person may experience the following warning signs and symptoms:

- Pale appearance in the skin

- Feeling of warmth

- Weakness

- Lightheadedness

- Nausea

- Yawning

- Sweating

- Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)

- Blurred vision

- Field of vision "blacking out"

- Difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears

The signs and symptoms above may precede either a near faint which is known as pre-syncope or total loss of consciousness which is called syncope. But in either situation, recovery or regained consciousness happens by itself. Often times, adults who faint have a history of fainting as a child as well.

For a person to remain conscious, blood must constantly be pumped to the brain by the heart. When a person faints because of vasovagal syncope, the part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood pressure known as autonomic nervous system goes haywire and the brain is deprived of blood supply.

When a fainting trigger, such as the sight of blood, is experienced, the autonomic nervous system reacts inappropriately by causing the heart rate to slow and a dilation in the blood vessels in the legs. Blood then pools in the legs, causing low blood pressure. Because of this drop in blood pressure and slowed heart rate, blood flow to the brain is diminished and fainting occurs.

Vasovagal fainting can be triggered by a number of different stimuli which can be both emotional and physiological. The reason behind many of these triggers remains unclear. Fainting may be the result of one or more of these causes:

- Emotional distress, including panic attacks, anxiety attacks or fear

- Standing in a hot, crowded area

- Having a bowel movement (especially if straining)

- Strenuous coughing

- Unpleasant situations, such as the sight of blood

- Urinating

- Standing in one place for a long period

- Breathing too fast (hyperventilation)

- Severe dehydration

- Severe pain

- Heat exposure

Fainting can also be caused by other factors which are not considered to be vasovagal syncope including:

- Heart problems

- Neurological problems, such as brain tumors or bleeding into the brain

- Severe blood loss

Sometimes, the cause of fainting can't be determined, and it sometimes can be difficult to distinguish fainting from other causes of altered consciousness, such as epilepsy.

Episodes of recurrent fainting are a sign of anemia due to a deficiency of iron. A hemoglobin test will determine if an iron deficiency is present. In this case, an increase of iron will be necessary. Consume plenty of leafy green vegetables and oatmeal.

Since fainting is due to a wide variety of problems, I strongly recommend a visit to an alternative health care practitioner for an evaluation.

The regimen outlined below includes a holistic approach to treating & preventing fainting:

A person who is prone to fainting should identify any fainting triggers and work to avoid them.

Be sure to eat regularly and healthy and stand up slowly.

Drink plenty of pure water to avoid dehydration, which can cause fainting.

Exercise will lower your risk of fainting because it helps strengthen blood vessels and maintains adequate blood flow. I suggest walking briskly for about 20 minutes three times a week.

If you feel faint, breathe deeply by taking 10 to 12 breaths per minute until you stop feeling faint. Be sure not to take more than 1 deep breath every five seconds as overbreathing can cause hyperventilation.

Be sure to get plenty of rest each night as lack of sleep can contribute to fainting.

Pay attention to warning signs of fainting, such as nausea, dizziness and sweating, and sit down to avoid falling.

The following herbs and vitamins may be beneficial in treating fainting:

Peppermint Oil (take as directed on label) - Can revive a fainting victim when placed under the nose of the unconscious person.

Ginger and Licorice (take as directed on label) - Can increase circulation when taken in tea form.

Basil (taken in tea form)- Recommended for people who suffer from fainting spells.

Vitamin B Complex (take as directed on label) - Deficiency has been linked to lowered blood pressure and fainting sensations.

High-Potency Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement (take as directed on label) - Prevents imbalances, which could be the cause of fainting spells.

 

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