What it feels like: temporarily losing consciousness or vision, some-times preceded by feeling faint or giddy.

What can make it worse: coughing, urination, head-turning, exer-tion, pain, a fright, food, hitting your head.

Your Doctor Visit

What your doctor will ask you about: seizures, changes in vision,changes in sensation or movement, urination and bowel movements,chest pain, hunger, sweating, dizziness when standing, head injuries.

Your doctor will want to know if you or anyone in your familyhas had any of these conditions: seizures, neurologic disease, dia-betes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease.

Your doctor will want to know what happened when youblacked out, including what position you were in, and whetheranyone watched you black out.

Your doctor will want to know if you’re taking any of these med-ications: digitalis, antiarrhythmics, anticonvulsants, antidepres-sants, blood pressure medications, insulin, diuretics, oral hypo-glycemic agents.

Your doctor will do a physical examination including the fol-lowing: blood pressure, pulse, listening to your heart with astethoscope, testing your stool for blood, thorough neurologicalexamination.


Cause: Vasovagal/ postural  syncope
What is it: Common fainting
Typcal Symptoms: Blacking out after standing,  coughing, urinating, emotional stress, or injury

Cause: Insufficient  cardiac output
What is it: Your heart is not pumping enough blood to  meet your body’s needs
Typcal Symptoms: History of heart disease,  chest pain, or irregular  heart beats, blackouts mayoccur after exercise

Cause: Cerebrovascular  disease
What is it: Blockages of the blood   vessels feeding the brain
Typcal Symptoms: Spontaneous falls, sometimes changes in vision,speech, or movement

Cause: Seizures (See  chapter on  Convulsions  [Seizures].)
What is it:  Convulsions
Typcal Symptoms: Losing control of your  movements, an alternating  pattern of rigidity and  relaxation, sometimes accompanied by a loss ofconsciousness; sometimes accompanied by loss ofbowel or bladder control

Cause: Anemia (See  chapter on  Weakness.)
What is it: Low blood count
Typcal Symptoms: Black bowel movements, rapid heart rate

Cause: Medication use
What is it: Diuretics, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, digitalis,  insulin
Typcal Symptoms: Hunger, sweating, heart  pounding prior to losing  consciousness, fainting  after standing

Cause: Psychological
What is it: Stress or other emotionalproblems
Typcal Symptoms: Prolonged “coma” without  any clear cause, may feature eyelid fluttering