Fainting is a loss of consciousness that happens quickly and sometimes without warning. A fainting episode usually resolves within seconds to minutes. If fainting is caused by another condition, then the condition will need to be treated.
In general, fainting is caused by decreased blood flow to the brain.
Treatment will depend on the underlying condition that has caused fainting. This may include medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery.
Knowing the warning signs of fainting can help prevent injury. If warning signs are present, the person should be encouraged to sit or lie down right away.
Decreasing the risk of fainting will depend on the cause. Some factors that may help include:
Rising slowly and carefully from lying down. Start by sitting up for a minute and then stand up.
Drinking plenty of fluids.
Discussing helpful dietary changes with your doctor. This may include eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Avoiding alcohol or other drugs.
There are certain physical movements that rapidly increase blood pressure and blood flow to the brain. These movements may prevent fainting after warning signs appear. Examples of physical movements may include:
Crossing your legs while tensing the muscles of legs, abdomen, and buttocks.
Forcefully squeezing a rubber ball or other object as hard as possible.
Gripping one hand with the other while tensing both arms and raising the elbows slightly.
Fainting. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/fainting.html. Updated December 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.
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Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 3/24/2015
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