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3 common causes of fainting explained

Dr Pradip Shah explains in detail why people faint. Click to know more.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Published : February 2, 2017 6:16 PM IST

The first time I saw someone faint is during our school sports day when one of my friends suddenly fell down. And after that, when I entered college, one of my friends fainted at the sight of blood during practicals. We have all fainted or come across someone fainting. But do know the exact cause of fainting? I asked Dr Pradip Shah, Consultant Physician at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai about fainting and what causes it. Here is what the doctor said.

Dr Pradip Shah says that fainting mainly occurs due to three common reasons that include vasovagal, postural hypotension and heart arrhythmia.

1. Vasovagal cause: One of the most common causes of fainting, it is psychological in nature and usually seen in teenagers and young kids. You can faint by a slight pinch due to an injection or at the site of blood. This is due to the effect on a vagal nerve, which causes a drop in the blood pressure and heart rate, causing you to faint. The main reason for vasovagal fainting is mainly due to pain or any psychological factor.

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2. Postural hypotension related fainting: A slight drop in blood pressure in a person suffering from high blood pressure due to medications is quite common. This is usually caused when you take blood pressure medications that are high in concentration or more than the recommended dose, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure, leading to fainting. However, postural hypotension is when the blood pressure falls when you change your posture (from sitting to standing or sleeping to standing). This causes less flow of blood to the brain, leading to a drop in blood pressure and fainting.

3. Heart arrhythmia: The third common cause of fainting, any changes in the heart rhythm in people suffering from heart disease can lead to fainting. Also known as Stoke-Adams attack. It can also lead to intermittent fainting episodes and commonly seen in elderly people (50 - 60 years old). In such a case, it is wise to consult your doctor if you have a heart disease and experience fainting. Also read reasons why you should not ignore feeling faint often.

In general, there is no need to worry as fainting non-consequential, meaning it does not cause any health problems. When you faint a drop in blood pressure is due to gravitational pressure and a person might become normal after some time as the blood pressure increases and returns to normal. However, in very rare cases, a drop in blood pressure can impair flow to the brain causing long term effects. In such a case, you might suffer from convulsion, which is a cause of concern. Also read is dizziness and fainting normal during pregnancy?

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