Syncope is the proper medical terminology for a sudden loss of consciousness, or fainting. While the underlying causes for syncope vary, the phenomenon is relatively common. Chances are that every person will experience an episode of passing out with little or no warning at some point during his or her life.
The trigger for syncope can be something as simple as a sudden scare or a shock. It is not unusual for someone to faint upon hearing of some unexpected event, such as the death of a loved one. The blackout may also occur when the mind and body sense some type of impending danger or threat, and the individual is unable to escape the situation.
In terms of how a blackout affects the body, the condition is brought on by a change of the blood flow to the brain. There is often a substantial change in blood pressure that results in the brain not receiving a normal amount of blood into and out of the organ. This interruption in blood flow causes the individual to lose consciousness for a short period of time. When syncope is not due to some ongoing medical condition, it is usually easy to revive the individual within a short period of time.
Because fainting does not have to be tied to some underlying illness, the phenomenon may be experienced by just about anyone. Persons of all ages and genders may experience a fainting episode. Generally, the actual faint is preceded by a momentary stiffening of the body posture before the person loses consciousness. The eyes may appear to roll back in the head just as the eyelids close and the body becomes limp.
Syncope can also be a symptom of some type of medical condition, such as low blood pressure or even an extreme anxiety disorder. When an episode of fainting takes place, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. While syncope is often a one-time event triggered by some unexpected stimuli, a complete physical checkup will help to ensure the event was not a precursor to something more serious.