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Fainting / Loss of Consciousness
Fainting / Loss of Consciousness Treatment

Loss of consciousness, also referred to as fainting, is the loss of awareness of your surroundings, posture, and inability to stay awake. This occurs as a result of decreased blood flow to the brain and is considered a medical emergency especially if the individual has underlying medical conditions like neurological disorders.

Types of Loss of Consciousness

Loss of consciousness comes in different types. The most common type, which is mostly experienced by children and adults, is known as neurally-mediated syncope and occurs when there is a reduction of blood circulation to the brain, which leads to a drop in blood pressure. Other types of loss of consciousness include:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Coma

Causes of Loss of Consciousness

There are different factors that may lead to loss of consciousness including:

  • Neurological conditions
  • Psychological factors (vasovagal syncope)
  • Heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure (postural hypotension)
  • Migraine attack
  • Transient ischemic attack (brain stroke)
  • Blood pressure medication which may lead to low blood pressure
  • Blood volume decrease as a result of dehydration
  • Conditions of the nerves e.g. Parkinson’s Disease or diabetes

Other common causes of fainting include:

  • Severe pain
  • Standing for a long time
  • Emotional distress
  • Exposure to extreme heat
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hunger
  • Extreme fear

Symptoms of Loss of Consciousness

Common symptoms that are associated with loss of consciousness include:

  • Dizziness
  • Overall weakness especially in the arms and legs
  • Seizure
  • Lightheadness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Hot flush especially on the face and neck
  • Poor balance
  • Falling
  • Rapid pulse
  • Poor balance
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function

Diagnosis of Loss of Consciousness

The main goal for loss of consciousness diagnosis is to find the root cause of the condition, hence effective treatment. During your consultation with a specialist, he/she will ask you about your complete medical history and will also perform a detailed neurological examination. Additionally, they will want to know all the types of medication you may be taking as well as alcohol consumption.

Several tests may also be ordered which include:

  • Toxicology screen which involves testing your blood and urine for medications and other substances
  • Complete blood count
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Complete liver test
  • Liver function test
  • CT Scan
  • Head MRI
  • Measurement of oxygen levels in the blood
  • Electrolyte panel

Treatment of Loss of Consciousness

Treatment of loss of consciousness is highly dependent on the cause, which is determined during diagnosis and after the results of the medical tests are revealed. In most cases, treatment is focused on the symptoms of the underlying cause or condition.

Loss of consciousness can be a symptom of a serious condition that may worsen the longer you stay blacked out. It is highly recommended to seek immediate medical attention as soon as an individual loses consciousness.