Syncope does not always appear to be a complete loss of consciousness, but may be just an altered state of consciousness. The individual, although they have fallen, will usually recover spontaneously within a brief time period. In some instances, the individual may not lose consciousness, but have an impending sensation that they are going to faint. Syncope can be caused by both cardiovascular or noncardiovascular diseases or conditions. cardiovascular conditions such as, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, etc. are generally related to syncope. Fright or extreme stress that is not due to cardiovascular conditions, may cause a condition known as a vasovagal attack, due to a vasovagal depression of the vagal nerve.
Another causative factor may be, Orthosatic hypotension, whereby the individual has sudden drop in blood pressure when getting up suddenly from a sitting or lying down position. This is more likely to occur in the older individual. In these individuals, syncope can occur due to many other causes. An inconsequential cause such as a tight collar may act as a trigger to cause a caotid sinus episode that can cause syncope, or the feeling of syncope. In the older male who may have prostatic hypertrophy and is straining to urinate can also lose consciousness.
There are many other conditions that can be causative factors. Congenital factors, such as epilepsy, may be trigger in these episodes. In some individuals, the cause may never be determined, even after going through every test known at this time. Some individuals have gone through CT scans, MRI’s, Tilttable test, etc. and still have not had a definitive diagnosis. These individuals go through their everyday lives with a variety of symptoms. They can feel a sudden giddiness, the room seems as if spinning around them. They can break out in sweats. They may have a sudden dimming of vision, and become nauseous, and in some instances will vomit.
In some individuals, the condition may be caused by “Vertigo”, a condition usually caused by the balance mechanism in the middle ear. In this case, the individual needs to see a specialist to determine if there might be a viral infection or other defect of the inner ear. If a viral infection is found the they will probably be treated with an antibiotic. In many instances the condition may be due to some irregularity of the inner ear mechanism. At times certain movements of the head by the doctor will correct or improve the condition.
When an individual undergoes a state of syncope, and they are on the ground, good Samaritans, should not attempt to sit or stand these individuals up. They should instead, raise their legs in order to help restore their blood circulation to the head and brain.