Syncope is most commonly referred to as fainting or “passing out.” It is a temporary loss of consciousness and muscle strength. Loss of consciousness from syncope usually happens fast, and has only a short duration. Once the body becomes horizontal, blood flow to the brain is usually restored and the patient regains consciousness rather quickly.

The causes of syncope vary widely, but the most common cause is lack of blood flow to the brain, usually from low blood pressure. Prior to complete loss of consciousness, people often feel warning signs that something is wrong; such as being lightheaded, increased sweating, pale skin, blurred vision, nausea, or feel overheated. The person who loses consciousness can often be seriously injured by falling. If syncope occurs while driving or walking near water, the results can be fatal.

Some of the causes of syncope include:

  • Restricted blood flow to the brain from clogged carotid arteries
  • Drop in blood sugar level
  • Diabetes
  • Dehydration
  • Fasting
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Brain tumor
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat)
  • Sudden fear or grief
  • The sight of blood or vomit
  • Medications
  • Exhaustion

Unexplained loss of consciousness might be caused by something minor, but it could also be a sign of something much more serious that needs immediate attention. If you or a loved one experience syncope, contact Dr. Deborah Cantrell and the staff at Elite Neuroscience Center right away.

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