What is Syncope?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

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.

Syncope may occur as a result of sudden shock.
Syncope may occur as a result of sudden shock.

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.

Low blood pressure can cause syncope.
Low blood pressure can cause syncope.

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.

The death of a loved one could potentially trigger syncope.
The death of a loved one could potentially trigger syncope.

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.

Fainting is relatively common.
Fainting is relatively common.

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.

A complete checkup is needed to ensure that a sycope incident does not signal something more serious, such as blood pressure issues.
A complete checkup is needed to ensure that a sycope incident does not signal something more serious, such as blood pressure issues.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon302781

I have a sister. She is nine years old and she faints once a month. This problem has been going for a year.

anon276401

How is syncope treated?

anon153758

Syncope is just a symptom. Sometimes the symptom can be treated through environmental modifications, but the underlying cause of the symptom should be diagnosed by a physician; especially important related to something as vital as blood circulation.

GardenTurtle

In more serious cases of syncope due to circulatory or heart problems, pacemakers are implanted for regulation of the heartbeat. Sometimes, even internal defibrillators are used and they actually correct an abnormal heart rhythm. Both of those are extreme cases and only for certain medical conditions.

DinoLeash

@carrotisland: You can also elevate the head of your bed. I placed risers under the legs of the head of my bed to elevate it. My doctor also told me to use extra precautions when sitting down and standing up.

momothree

@carrotisland: Treating syncope can be complicated since there are so many different things, or nothing at all, that causes it. However, there are things that your doctor might recommend.

Sometimes, syncopal episodes are caused by circulatory problems. In that case, wearing compression stockings can help to improve your circulation.

Also, you may need to make some dietary adjustments such as eating small, frequent meals and avoiding caffeine or alcohol.

CarrotIsland

How is syncope treated, or is there a treatment?

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