How to Deal With Fainting Spells

Three Parts:Recognizing and Reacting to the Warning SignsPreventing Without MedicationConsulting Your Doctor

Fainting, or syncope (pronounced SIN-ko-pee), is a sudden loss of consciousness that is typically caused by a drop in blood flow to the brain (vasovagal syncope). There are a number of medical conditions that may cause fainting spells, including heart or nervous system issues, low blood sugar, exhaustion, and anemia. However, it is also possible for an otherwise healthy person to experience fainting spells. [1] While fainting spells are a commonly reported medical issue, accounting for 6% of emergency room visits, they are nonetheless frightening for the sufferer. [2] Thus it is important to understand the warning signs, the possible methods of prevention, and also how to get help to ensure a safe and healthy lifestyle.

Part 1
Recognizing and Reacting to the Warning Signs

  1. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 1
    Determine if a fainting spell is approaching. There are a number of symptoms, referred to as pre-syncope, that you may experience immediately before fainting. Most fainting spells occur when you are standing, and recognizing warning signs will help you prepare yourself if you do indeed faint. In addition, awareness can also help to prevent a fainting episode and will help you stay safe if you do faint.
    • Common symptoms include yawning, a sudden sweat, nausea (sickness), fast and deep breathing, confusion, lightheadedness, blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes, and ringing in your ears. [3]
  2. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 2
    React quickly to the symptoms. The symptoms of fainting can come on very quickly and with little warning. If you experience the above symptoms it is a good idea to conduct 'antigravity' measures, which when done immediately upon feeling symptoms, can help you avoid a fainting episode.
    • Medical experts suggest that you lie or sit down and place your head between your knees. These positions will help restore blood flow to the brain and can prevent a fainting episode. [4]
    • If standing, you can also cross your legs and tightening your abdominal muscles. This is effective if you are in a crowded place and you are unable to lie down immediately. [5]
  3. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 3
    Prepare yourself for losing consciousness. By preparing, you can ensure that you are in a safe and secure place when you faint. Try telling someone near you what is happening and ask for assistance, try lying down, or try bracing yourself against a wall to prepare. If you find yourself on stairs or other precarious surroundings, sit down and hold on to a railing immediately.
    • If you do faint, blood flow will resume to your brain naturally and you should regain consciousness in two minutes or less.[6]
  4. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 4
    Take it slowly if you do faint. It is normal to feel weak and confused for 20 to 30 minutes after fainting. Remain calm when you regain consciousness. Also, take some time to lay on your back to allow blood flow back to the brain. You should also hydrate yourself with water. [7]

Part 2
Preventing Without Medication

  1. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 5
    Identify the cause. Fainting spells are not necessarily an indication of a serious medical condition. In fact, fainting spells may be caused by anxiety, fear, pain, emotional stress, hunger, dehydration, surprise, overexertion, clenching, spasms, choking, or drug and alcohol use. [8] If you suspect that your fainting spells are being caused by one of these issues, there are measures you can take to prevent future episodes.
  2. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 6
    Prevent fainting spells through hydration. Hydration is the best way to prevent fainting spells without medication. Drinking more water is ideal, but you can get fluids from food sources (like watermelon), milk, soups, etc. All caffeinated beverages, including sodas, should be eliminated. If you are sufficiently hydrated, you will be urinating regularly and your urine will be clear or light colored, not dark. [9]
    • Caffeine stimulates the heart, making fainting spells more likely to occur. If you drink large amounts of caffeine, you should cut back slowly to avoid headaches.
    • While the amount of fluids you need each day depends on a number of factors — including your level of activity, your climate, your overall health and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should drink about half of your weight in ounces each day. So if you weigh 200 lbs. then you should be consuming 100 oz (or 12.5 8-oz glasses) of fluids each day.[10]
    • If you are an athlete with more muscle-mass, you should drink about two-thirds of your weight in ounces.[11]
    • Eating regularly can also help to reduce lightheadedness and reduce your chance of fainting by boosting blood sugar.
  3. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 7
    Practice calming techniques. If anxiety and stress are causing fainting spells, calming techniques can help you avoid fainting spells. You can try counting your breaths or deep breathing, flexing and relaxing different muscle groups, and paying attention to the immediate moment rather than the past or future (also known as mindfulness). [12]
    • Avoid placing yourself in stressful situations and do your best to remove yourself from such situations. Learning to stay calm and to assert yourself can help you to overcome feelings of anxiety.
  4. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 8
    Avoid excessive drinking and illegal drugs. The flushed look that many people get when they drink alcohol is actually blood rushing to the surface of the skin. This takes blood away from the brain, and can cause fainting episodes. Excessive drinking also causes dehydration, which is a leading cause of fainting spells. [13] Illegal drugs, particularly stimulants such as cocaine or ecstasy, also cause fainting spells. These should be avoided.

Part 3
Consulting Your Doctor

  1. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 9
    Find out if you have a medical condition. While it is possible that fainting spells are not related to medical conditions, it is also possible that they are a sign of a medical problem. To determine this, you will need to visit your doctor. You should see your doctor immediately if you experience fainting while exercising, if fainting occurs with rapid heartbeat, or if your family has a history of fainting. If you experience repeated fainting spells, you should consult your doctor. [14]
  2. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 10
    Provide the doctor with your history. Your doctor will ask a number of questions to determine the cause of your fainting. These may include the situation you find yourself in when you faint, how long the episodes last, how quickly it takes you to return to normal, and any other symptoms you may experience during the episodes. The doctor may also order a number of tests to determine the cause of your fainting spells.
    • An electrocardiogram will be ordered if the doctor suspects a heart condition is the cause.
    • An electroencephalogram will be ordered if the doctor suspects something in the brain is the cause. [15]
  3. Image titled Deal With Fainting Spells Step 11
    Follow the doctor's advice. There is a chance that your doctor will not recommend any medication for your fainting spells. There is no medicine that treats fainting spells themselves, so your doctor may instead prescribe a medicine to treat the cause of the fainting spells. These may include medicine for low blood sugar, seizures, anemia, or low blood pressure.
    • If any medications are prescribed, be sure to take them exactly as your doctor advises.


  • When feeling faint, you have approximately 15-30 seconds to perform 'antigravity' measures.
  • Keep track of how long you are unconscious (ask a person to help, if possible). Medical staff will need to know this in order to help with medical diagnosis.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure | Health