Fainting or Blacking Out -- Causes
and Top 10 Natural Remedies

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October 2, 2010, last updated October 6, 2013
By Louise Carr, Contributing Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

Chances are, at some point in your life you’ll have a
fainting fit or blackout. You may have already
experienced one, perhaps when stressed or in a hot
and crowded room. You’re not alone – fainting or
blacking out is very common. The American Heart
Association says nearly 1 million Americans suffer a
fainting spell every year and around a third of us will
have at least one in our life.

Fainting or blacking out is responsible for 3 percent
of U.S. emergency room visits and 6 percent of
hospital visits. According to the NHS, in 2008 to 2009
nearly 120,000 people in England were admitted to
hospital for fainting. Almost half of the admissions
were people aged over 75, showing that fainting
becomes more common with age.

Fainting, otherwise known as syncope, is a
temporary loss of consciousness. The word
"syncope" comes from the Greek word "to cut short"
or "interrupt". Syncope, fainting or blacking out,
occurs through a sudden drop in blood flow to the
brain. Your brain doesn’t have enough oxygen and
you ‘pass out’ for a few seconds or minutes. While it
is a frightening thing to experience or watch, fainting
is not usually life-threatening and most people
recover quickly. However, fainting or blacking out
can sometimes be a sign of a serious condition so you
should check with your doctor to rule out serious
causes. Fainting can also cause risk of injury when
you fall and be very dangerous if you’re driving a car.

Causes of Fainting and Blacking Out

There are two primary reasons for fainting or
blacking out – non-cardiac causes and cardiac
causes. Fortunately, non-cardiac causes are the
most common reasons for a fainting spell or black
out. These are referred to as vasovagal syncope.
You faint because a large proportion of blood
becomes pooled in the legs, resulting in a fall in blood
pressure, lack of blood flow to the brain, and fainting.

The vasomotor center, which is responsible for
maintaining the normal contraction of blood vessels,
signals for blood vessels in the legs to dilate. Blood
pools in the legs and you suffer a faint. This often
happens when we stand up suddenly.

Non-cardiac fainting can be triggered many factors
including reduction in blood volume by bleeding,
excessive vomiting or diarrhea, exercise,
overheating, dehydration, stress or headache.

Further non-cardiac causes of fainting or blacking
out include
anemia, a low red blood cell count, when
there’s a lack of red blood cells to deliver oxygen to
the brain.

Fainting is also linked with pregnancy, due to
compression of the vein that returns blood to the

Do Heart Problems Cause Fainting and Blackouts?

Cardiac problems can cause fainting by temporarily
reducing the blood flow to the brain, either through
a heart rate that’s too fast or too slow, or an
obstruction of blood flow out of the heart. Heart
rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) that disrupt the flow
of blood to the brain include bradycardia (too-slow
heartbeat), tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and
fibrillation (a rapid, chaotic heartbeat).

Narrowed heart valves can also lead to fainting or
blacking out, as can extreme thickening of the heart
muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Strokes or
near strokes can cause fainting on rare occasions.
Adams-Stokes Disease is a condition caused by a
heart rhythm disorder and can cause fainting.

Fainting from cardiac problems is usually sudden with
no warning signs. Non-cardiac causes often produce
warning signs such as pale skin, lightheadedness,
tunnel vision, nausea, sweating and a feeling of
warmth. How can you treat someone who’s suffered
a fainting fit? Can fainting and black-outs be
prevented? Here are the Top 10 natural remedies
for fainting or blacking out, based on medical

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Fainting

1. Elevate Your Legs To Stop Fainting

The best thing you can do if you think you’re about
to faint is to lie down. Lift your legs up and keep
them elevated above your heart level on a pillow or
blankets if you can. This helps the blood flow back to
your brain. If you can’t lie down, sit with your head
bent forward between your legs. Wait until you feel
better until you stand up, and then do so slowly. If
someone near you faints, loosen belts and collars
and other restrictive clothing and keep them lying or
sitting down until the shaky feeling passes.

If you are one of those people who faint after
standing in line for awhile, there is a simple reason.
When you stand in line without moving for long
periods of time, blood pools in the bottom of your
legs. As a result, your brain doesn't get enough
blood, and you faint. Try flexing your calf muscles by
moving your legs while you stand in line. Flex your
toes and stand up slightly on your toes to activate
your calf muscles. This action will force blood back up
toward your heart and brain.

Stay Hydrated to Prevent Fainting Or Blackouts

When you experience a non-cardiac syncope, or
fainting spell, blood has pooled in your legs resulting
in a lack of blood being sent to the brain. This
commonly occurs through dehydration so it’s
important to be filled with fluids in order to reduce
the risk of black outs. Be careful if you have suffered
from vomiting or diarrhea, as this can cause
dehydration. Limit the amount of alcohol you
consume to avoid dehydration and drink plenty of

Control Stress to Prevent Blackouts

Emotional distress can cause fainting or black outs,
as can stress and over-exercise. This is because the
vasovagal reflex can be activated in a number of
ways, including through emotional triggers. Your
nervous system fails to stabilize your blood pressure
and you can faint.

Yoga, deep breathing exercises and other relaxation
techniques can help to reduce fainting. Homeopathy
has also been shown to reduce black outs caused by
non-cardiac factors. Carbo vegetabilis is used for
fainting or lightheadedness after getting up in the
morning or from loss of fluids.  Sepia is used for
fainting following prolonged standing or exercise.

Stand Up Slowly To Prevent Black Outs

When you change your position from lying down to
standing up, the autonomic nervous system makes
the blood vessels constrict and pump added blood
upwards to the brain. Orthostatic hypotension
occurs when blood vessels become less able to
constrict, resulting in low blood pressure on standing
and consequent fainting. This occurs more often in
older people. Wait for a few seconds after changing
positions in order to give your body chance to react,
and take your time standing up.

Raise Blood Sugar to Treat Fainting Fits

Non-cardiovascular syncope, otherwise known as
fainting that is not caused by problems with your
heart, may be triggered by a drop in blood sugar. If
you are diagnosed with diabetes you need to take
extra care with diet and exercise in order to reduce
blood sugar spikes and drops that can trigger
fainting. If you don’t have diabetes, you can faint
from prolonged periods without food so don’t skip
meals and keep your diet healthy.

Stop Cartoid Sinus Syndrome To Stop Fainting

Do you may faint when you turn your head to one
side? If this happens, consult your doctor as your
fainting may be a sign of the bones in your neck
pinching on the blood vessel that leads to your brain,
the carotid artery. Avoid fainting by reducing
pressure on the artery – don’t wear shirts with tight
collars or tight scarves. Try turning your whole body,
not just your head, as you look round.

Treat Heart Problems To Stop Fainting

Cardiac causes of fainting, or cardiovascular
syncope, are an important indicator of heart health
and shouldn’t be ignored. According to the Heart
Rhythm Society, the risk of cardiovascular syncope
increases with age and those at greatest risk are
those who have coronary artery disease, angina or
have had a heart attack. If you have a heart
condition there are many medications and lifestyle
changes to help heal your heart and restore your
heart’s blood supply. Eat a diet rich in fruit and
vegetables and antioxidant foods, fiber and healthy
oils. Cut our trans fats and processed foods made
with refined sugar. Medication and a healthy lifestyle
will cut down on fainting and black outs as your heart
more effectively delivers blood to the brain.

Stop Sneezing and Other Special Triggers To
Prevent Fainting

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