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First aid: Fainting

Knowing fainting first aid can save a life.
Know the step-by-step guide for first aid for fainting to save a person’s life.

Fainting is the sudden onset of brief unconsciousness resulting from the temporary self-terminating period of total cerebral hypo-profusion. Simply put, fainting is the abrupt loss of consciousness due to diminishing blood supply to the brain, followed by a return to full awareness. The brain has numerous parts performing its functions, such as the cerebral hemispheres, cerebellum, thalamus, brain stem, etc. The brain cells require oxygen and glucose for survival, provided by the proficient blood supply. If the blood flow is disrupted to these areas, the person loses consciousness and faints.

When the person faints, he doesn’t know what is happening to him until he wakes up. Fainting can cause a serious issue if it is prolonged or occurs repeatedly. Fainting doesn’t cause any injury, but sometimes it happens; for example, if you are standing and fall on the floor due to fainting, you may get a head injury. One should know the general precautionary measures to save themselves from some severe conditions.

Signs of fainting

The loss of consciousness followed by full awareness is the primary symptom of fainting. Some other symptoms are also present in this medical condition. The symptoms that occur before fainting are as follows;

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tingling sensations in the body
  • Feeling of warmth
  • Faded vision
  • Dizziness

The symptoms that occur after fainting are as follows;

  • Slump
  • Pale appearance
  • Low pulse rate
  • Low blood pressure

First aid

One should know the step-by-step guide for first aid for fainting to save any person’s life. Follow the following steps if someone faints in your home;

  • Stable the person: First, rest the person on the back and raise the legs 12 inches ( 30 cm) to allow blood to flow toward the brain. Loose, tightened clothes like sashes, ties, chokers, collars, bands, and similar forms of tight clothing. When the person recovers, his consciousness doesn’t let him get up instantly.
  • Revive the person if he doesn’t gain consciousness: Shake the person busily, tap briskly, yell, and rub the hands and feet. If the person still doesn’t wake up, you must call an emergency, and you can do CPR at home until the medical aid doesn’t come.
  • Give home attention: Serve the person with juice, especially if the stomach is empty for more than 6 hours or if the person has diabetes. Stay with the person until he fully recovers from the episode of fainting.
  • Inspect the person’s breath: Inspect the person’s breathing and ensure that the airways are not blocked. If there is no indication of breathing, instantly start CPR. Continue the CPR until help reaches or the person inhales and exhales.
  • Injured Person: If the person falls during the fainting episode, put the person in a recovery position and apply bold pressure on the injured area until help arrives.

How to do CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR) is a life-saving first aid step for fainting. Start the process of CPR with an accurate head position. Tilt the head back and then lift the chin to open the airways. Pinch the nose of the person and close the patient’s mouth with your mouth to make an airtight seal. Fill the person’s mouth with your breath two times and let the chest rise. Continue switching between contractions and breathing until there are some signs of movement.

When to call an emergency?

The first aid for fainting sometimes doesn’t work because of some underlying cause or the severe syncope condition. If the person has the following signs and symptoms, then readily seek medical care;

  • Head injury during fainting
  • Have odd symptoms like briefness of breath, confusion, faded vision, difficulty talking, etc.
  • If the person has a history of heart disease
  • Fecal or urinary incontinence
  • If she faints during pregnancy
  • The person is encountering recurring attacks of fainting
  • If the person persists unconsciously for more than two or three minutes after fainting
  • When a person is diabetic

Causes for fainting

Fainting is due to the shortage of blood supply to the brain. Blood supply is decreased when the heart ceases to function and pumps less blood when blood vessels don’t have enough strength to retain the blood pressure towards the brain, and when there are insufficient fluids and blood in the vessels. Many underlying conditions lead to fainting. Some of them are given below;

  • Decreased fluids cause dehydration and lower blood pressure, lowering the blood supply to the brain.
  • Rampant diabetes decreases fluid levels and damages the nerves that control blood pressure, leading to fainting.
  • Alcohol can also cause fainting if taken in a large amount and for a short period.
  • Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and some other conditions lead to decreased blood pressure, which causes fainting.
  • Pharmaceuticals like beta-blockers and anti-hypertensive drugs also cause hypotension.


If the person faints due to some underlying cause, one must take proper treatment to avoid fainting. To prevent fainting, one should adopt some preventive measures such as avoiding triggers, prolonged periods of standing, and spending a long time in a hot environment. The person should drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks, move around as much as possible, slowly breathe into a paper bag, and avoid a stuffy environment.

Q1. What to do when you feel faint?

If you’re feeling faint, it’s essential to prioritize your safety. Find a place to sit or lie down to avoid falling. Try to elevate your legs to help improve blood flow to your brain. Staying hydrated is crucial, so sip on water if you can. If you don’t start feeling better or if it happens frequently, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare expert to determine the underlying cause. Taking care of yourself is the first step!

Q2. What should I eat or drink if I feel faint?

When you’re feeling faint, consume something that can quickly raise your blood sugar levels. Opt for a small, easily digestible snack or drink. Good choices include:

    1. Fruit Juice: A small glass of natural fruit juice (not too sugary) can provide a quick source of glucose.
    2. Water: Dehydration can sometimes cause feelings of faintness, so sipping water is always a good idea.
    3. Snack Bars: A granola or cereal bar can provide a mix of carbohydrates for a quick energy boost.
    4. Fruits: Fresh fruits, especially those high in natural sugars like bananas or grapes, can be helpful.
    5. Avoid heavy foods, as they can be harder to digest and may not provide the quick energy boost you need. If you’re unsure or if the faintness persists, it’s essential to seek medical advice.

 1. National Library of Medicine

Books: NBK442006

2. The American Academy of family physicians

Evaluation and Differential Diagnosis


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