Don’t take those fainting spells lightly

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  1. starbliss

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    Fainting episodes or syncope is seen in people who are suffering from anemia, dehydration, side-effects of medication, electrolyte imbalances, heart diseases and cancer. Fainting leads to temporary loss of consciousness, accompanied by loss of muscle tone, which results in the falling or slumping over. The episode, which can last for a few seconds to a minute, is followed by full wakefulness.
    Before the occurrence of the episode, the person experiences light headedness, nausea, sweaty sensation and even weakness. There might also be a dizzy feeling or vertigo, vision fades, and also a tingling sensation in the body.
    Experts state that it must not be taken lightly and those who are suffering from heart diseases, diabetes and other conditions must go for a medical test to find the cause of these recurrent episodes. Fainting can be caused by decreased blood flow to the brain which occurs when the heart is not able to pump enough blood, explains Dr Sudhir Kumar, senior consultant neurologist at Apollo Hospitals.
    Are there any signs or symptoms before a person has a fainting episode?
    A person may have light headedness, increased sweating, general weakness or nausea sensation before a fainting episode. A person can have one or more of these symptoms — vertigo, feeling of going blank, inability to see anything (black outs) or confusion before fainting.
    What are the triggers that cause fainting?
    There are several known triggers including dehydration, extr-eme hunger, sleep deprivation, excessive stress, severe pain, exposure to extreme heat (as in summers) and exhaustion (as after running a marathon).
    What does a fainting episode indicate?
    Fainting can be caused by several day-to-day factors, which can be easily taken care of, to prevent the same in future. The first episode demands that the patient be evaluated properly so that such episodes can be avoided in future. In some cases, it could indicate a serious illness of the heart or brain. Abnormal rhythm of the heart (cardiac arrhythmia), heart failure, seizures (also known as epilepsy or fits) can also cause fainting.
    What are the tests that must be carried out after such an episode?
    A person needs to be evaluated in detail to exclude any serious underlying disease of the brain or heart. Initially, his pulse rate and blood pressure (in lying down and standing position) should be checked. A fall in BP on standing (postural hypotension) can also cause fainting. This should be followed by investigations such as haemoglobin count, blood sugar, sodium and other blood tests. This is because anemia (low haemoglobin), hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyponatremia (low sodium) can cause fainting. In selected cases, the heart function tests such as ECG, echocardiogram and Holter monitoring should be done. Similarly, to detect a brain disease, a brain scan and EEG (electroencephalography) should be done in selected cases.
    Who are at the higher risk of suffering from fainting episodes?
    People with high blood pressure, high blood sugars, low haemoglobin and heart disease are more likely to suffer fainting episodes. A person with a disease causing severe pain, such as cancer or brain tumour, may also suffer from fainting more often.
    What are the precautions that must be taken after suffering from the first episode of fainting?
    Have your meals on time and avoid skipping breakfast. Also, keep yourself well hydrated, especially during hot weather. Adequate sleep of 7-8 hours at nights should be ensured and stress/tension must be avoided. If any medicine has been advised by the neurologist/cardiologist, take them regularly.
    What are the kind of exercises that they must do and what are the ones that they must avoid?
    A young person, otherwise healthy, can go swimming, cycling, walking or jogging. However, a person with any heart disease should avoid strenuous exercises. People with epilepsy should avoid swimming or cycling outdoors.
    What are the foods that they must opt for and avoid?
    All healthy foods are advisable and junk food should be avoided. It is not a good idea to live on snacks and coffee alone, and skip regular meals.
    How must they work towards maintaining a healthy balance?
    Work should not extend 8-10 hours per day. As far as possible, night shift duties on a regular basis should be avoided, as natural sleep is best at nights and any deviation can lead to health hazards. At least 30 minutes per day should be devoted to exercise. Proper meal timings should be maintained. There should be enough time for leisure activities to unwind from the stress of work and to relax.
     
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