Preventing Simple Faints
Water makes up over half of your body weight. You lose water each day when you go to the toilet, sweat, and even as you breathe. You lose water even faster in hot weather, during exercise, and during illness. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid fluid loss. If you don’t replace the water you lose, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration leads to fainting spells by reducing your circulating blood volume, making it harder for the body to deliver adequate blood to your vital organs including your brain.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Low urine output
- Dark urine
Staying well hydrated is an effective way of preventing fainting spells. This means drinking at least 2.5 to 3 litres of fluid per day. You may need to drink more fluid in hot weather, prior to exercise, or if you are unwell with fever, vomiting, or diarrhoea. Fluids containing sugar or salt improve hydration while caffeine and alcohol should be avoided.
Tips for staying hydrated:
- Keep a water bottle with you during the day.
- Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
Fainting is a sudden temporary loss of consciousness that usually results in a fall.When you faint, you’ll feel weak and unsteady before passing out for a short period of time, usually only a few seconds. Fainting can be avoided by recognizing early symptoms and taking action.
These symptoms include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Dimming of your vision
Once you notice any of these symptoms, take the antigravity measures below to avoid fainting.
These measures reduce the effects of gravity on your blood which acts to pull blood away from your brain making you faint.
- Lying down with your knees up.
- Squat or kneel down.
- In social situations these may be inconvenient. Here, crossing your legs and tensing your abdominal muscles may help if performed early enough. You may also find tensing your arms and clenching your fists useful.
- Standing in a fixed position for a long period results in blood pooling in your legs. Pacing around or marching on the spot helps return the blood in your legs into circulation and prevent fainting.
When to see a doctor
Most cases of fainting are not a cause for concern and do not require treatment. However, less common types of fainting can be medical emergencies.
You should seek medical attention if:
- You have not fainted before
- You have repeated episodes of fainting
- You injure yourself during a faint
- You have diabetes
- You are pregnant
- You have a history of heart diseaes
- You experienced chest pain or palpitations before you fainted
- You experienced a loss of bladder or bowel control
- It took longer than a few minutes to regain consciousness
If your first episode of fainting occurs after 40, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.