Syncopal, also called fainting or loss of consciousness, occur when blood and oxygen flow to the brain drops below adequate levels. The human body uses fainting as a defense mechanism. Nonessential bodily functions stop to divert oxygen to vital organs. Heart rate and breathing also speed up to get more oxygen to the brain. These episodes are usually a minor health event, although frequent recurrence may indicate an underlying medical condition. More than the loss of consciousness itself, it is the potential fall and related injuries that pose the greatest health risk during a syncopal episode. Luckily, there are several ways to overcome these episodes.
It is common to hear one should sit or lay down or put their head between their knees when they begin feeling faint. This is recommended because many syncopal episodes are due to orthostatic hypotension. People with this condition experience drops in blood pressure following sudden repositionings, such as standing from a seated or lying position or bending over and straightening up too quickly. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should take care to move carefully and mindfully.
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