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A Cause of Fainting - Vasovagal Syncope

Updated on October 10, 2012

Vasovagal Syncope

Vasovagal Syncope (Syndrome) is not a well-known diagnosis for the reason of fainting / loss of consciousness. It came as a shock to me when I was first diagnosed with it. I had no idea what it meant, no clue as to the treatment of it, if there even was a treatment. I was mostly worried that it was some kind of serious disease that wasn't curable. After doing some research about it and asking the doctor who diagnosed me, I realized that there are ways to keep the fainting spells at bay and it's really not a serious issue at all.

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Definition, Symptoms, & Causes

Vasovagal Syncope, also known as neurocardiogenic syncope, is the most common form of fainting. Patients experience a brief loss of consciousness which is caused by a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure and reduces blood flow to the brain. There are different factors that can trigger the loss of consciousness and these episodes are usually recurrent. Before a person loses consciousness they may experience a number of different symptoms that can warn them of a soon-to-come attack. These symptoms may include nausea, an uncomfortable feeling within the heart, feeling of being very hot, lightheadedness, ringing in the ears, inability to speak or form words, blurry thoughts, mild stuttering, visual disturbances such as lights being too bright, tunnel vision, and occasionally a feeling of overactive nerves. These symptoms will most likely occur right before a loss of consciousness, if the person loses consciousness at all. Sometimes it can be preventable by sitting down when you're standing or standing when you're sitting down.

Causes of this syncope (or syndrome) are stress, standing up too quickly, prolonged standing or sitting upright (such as sitting at the computer), any painful or uncomfortable stimuli such as watching or experiencing medical procedures, sex, tickling, adrenaline, extreme emotions, lack of sleep, hunger, dehydration, high tempteratures, use of certain drugs containing amphetamines (such as blood pressure medications), the sight of blood, violent coughing, or swallowing.

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Treatment

Depending on the cause of a person's vasovagal syncope, treatment may vary. The main treatment that is recommended is to avoid the things that trigger an episode. However, a new study in psychological research has proven that patients show a reduced amount of episodes with exposure based therapy if the trigger is emotional or mental. Sport drinks and energy drinks may also be helpful since salt and fluids increase blood volume.

I myself have been diagnosed with vasovagal syncope. I've known that I've had it since I was in Junior High. I would faint several times a week with no explanation and occasionally would have seizures. After I was told that I would have to see a doctor before I could start Driver's Ed classes, I started to think that maybe my condition was more serious than I originally thought. I was subject to a tilt table test, an echocardiogram, and an electrophysiology study. Right away they knew what my problem was and they wrote me a note assuring everyone that it would be safe for me to drive. Different triggers in my case are dehydration, the sight of blood, standing up too quickly, painful stimuli, high temperatures, and hunger. Now I can usually keep myself from fainting when I feel it coming on unless I'm about to get my blood drawn or it comes on suddenly for whatever reason. I hope that this article helps people who may have this syndrome and also gives new insight to others who are skeptical of it. Thank you for reading.

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