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What is fainting?

Fainting is a period of temporary loss of consciousness that happens when the blood flow to the brain is reduced.

Fainting causes

There are a number of things that can cause you to faint, including:

  • changes to your blood pressure
  • dehydration
  • anaemia
  • some medicines
  • experiencing high levels of pain
  • exposure to sights you find unpleasant, such as the sight of blood
  • high levels of anxiety
  • standing up for long periods of time.

Fainting symptoms

Before fainting, it’s common to experience some of the following:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • sweating
  • changes to your breathing, such as breathing faster and deeply
  • altered vision, such as blurring and seeing spots or lights
  • nausea.

Recovery from a faint usually happens quite quickly as the blood flow back to the brain returns to normal.

If you are looking after someone who has fainted you should:

  • place the person on their side so they are supported by one leg and one arm
  • open their airway by tilting their head back and lifting their chin
  • if they don’t recover within two minutes, you should dial triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your fainting, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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