When you faint, you will feel weak and unsteady before passing out for a short period of time, usually only a few seconds.
Fainting can happen when you are sitting down, standing up or when you get up too quickly.
You may not experience any warning symptoms before you lose consciousnes, and if you do experience them it may be only for a few seconds.
Just before losing consciousness, you may experience the following symptoms:
- a sudden, clammy sweat
- nausea (feeling sick)
- fast, deep breathing
- feeling lightheaded
- blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
- ringing in your ears
This is followed by a loss of strength and a loss of consciousness.
When you collapse to the ground, your head and heart are on the same level. This means that your heart does not have to work as hard to push blood up to your brain. You should return to consciousness after about 20 seconds.
You should call 999 and request an ambulance if a person faints and does not regain consciousness within two minutes.
After fainting, you may feel confused and weak for about 20 to 30 minutes. You may also feel tired. Sometimes, you may not be able to remember what you were doing just before you fainted.
Fainting or stroke?
Fainting can be mistaken for a serious medical condition, such as a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted.
You should dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance if you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke.
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST, which stands for Face-Arms-Speech-Time.
- Face: the face may have fallen on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
- Arms: the person with a suspected stroke may not be able to raise both arms and keep them there due to arm weakness or numbness.
- Speech: the person may have slurred speech.
- Time: it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
You should also dial 999 to request an ambulance if someone faints and does not regain consciousness after a minute or two.