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

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Last updated August 29, 2018 (originally published October 2, 2010)

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
are not alone – fainting or blacking out is very common. In
fact, 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 UK's national Health Service, 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

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. Many medications can also cause
blacking out. For example, medications used to treat
dementia such as cholinerase and mementine can increase
your risk for fainting by over 50%, according to a 2011
study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School.


Many drugs which make you dizzy can also make you pass
Consumer Reports has compiled a list of medications
that can make you dizzy, including high blood pressure
medications, anti-convulsants, muscle relaxants and anti-

Further non-cardiac causes of fainting or blacking out
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 heart.

Most cases of syncope that involve complete loss of
consciousness, last from 6 to 8 seconds, though some can
last minutes, according to a 2010 study from the European
Society of Cardiology.

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

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.

[ Update:
Fainting and vomiting after a meal can be caused
by post-prandial hypotension
. When eating, our blood
pressure plummets by up to 20 points, which can make you
faint, vomit or both.]

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 water.

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

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