Fainting - Symptoms 

Symptoms of fainting 

When you faint, you'll feel weak and unsteady before passing out for a short period of time, usually only a few seconds.

Fainting can occur when you're sitting, standing, or when you get up too quickly.

Warning symptoms

You may not experience any warning symptoms before losing consciousness, and if you do it may only be for a few seconds.

You may experience the following symptoms just before losing consciousness:

  • yawning
  • a sudden, clammy sweat
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • fast, deep breathing
  • confusion
  • lightheadedness
  • blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
  • ringing in your ears

This will usually be followed by a loss of strength and consciousness.

When you collapse to the ground, your head and heart are on the same level. This means that your heart doesn't have to work as hard to push blood up to your brain. You should return to consciousness after about 20 seconds.

Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance if someone faints and doesn't regain consciousness within two minutes.

After fainting

After fainting, you may feel confused and weak for about 20-30 minutes. You may also feel tired and not be able to remember what you were doing just before you fainted.

Fainting or stroke?

Fainting can sometimes be mistaken for a serious medical condition, such as a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted.

You should dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you think 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 (see below).

  • 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 may not be able to raise both arms and keep them there, due to weakness or numbness.
  • Speech  the person may have slurred speech.
  • Time  it's time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

You should also dial 999 and ask for an ambulance if someone faints and doesn't regain consciousness after a minute or two.

Page last reviewed: 04/11/2014

Next review due: 04/11/2016

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The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

tanisskye16 said on 26 May 2013

i was sitting with my brother i was on the computer trying to play a song i don't remember anything after that last thing i woke up i was on the ground & my brother was right there but now still feel really dizzy & numb i dont know whats wrong with me can someone help me please

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Hamyam said on 23 February 2012

I have been experiencing fainting symptoms quite often these days. I always feel light headed, each time I stand up I feel like passing out. My head turns, I get all dizzy, I literally almost start passing out then I'd kind of get a grip of myself and sit down but even after sitting I still feel like fainting.

Also,have a cold at the moment. For a few days. Drugs I've taken isn't helping at all. My nostrils are all blocked,high body temperature,no appetite.nausea,diarrhoea,headache,almost fainting. Please I'd like to know what I can do to get better.

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potter_love said on 22 May 2011

Two days ago my body went a bit funny, at school i was nearly falling asleep as i was walking through the playgrounds, and then in the evening when my tutor was around working with me i couldn't keep my eyes open and i kept yawning even though i didn't feel tired, it felt like my eyes were rolling into the back of my head, and then her voice started to fade away and things started to black out and i could feel myself swaying but inside i felt normal...was this fainting? Or something different?

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Lucretia said on 24 August 2010

Snoring when you are unconcious is commonly caused by the tongue falling back and blocking your throat. It can happen any time someone is unconcious whether its faint from blood loss or epilepsy. I`m sure that when you were checked at the hospital that epilepsy would have been considered and checked for so I think that you can be confident that it has been excluded as a cause for your fainting spells.

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Jayne E said on 08 April 2010

I fainted twice recently & my husband said I was snoring when I was 'out'. Does anyone know if this is normal?
I was a bit worried as my mum has sleep epilepsy & after a seizure she will often go into a deep sleep & snore, was just worried that I didnt faint & that it was something else.
I did go to A&E that morning to get checked out, but I didnt know about the snoring bit until after I got home- dr just said it was exhaustion.

Have checked google but nothing relevant came up.
Any comments welcome.

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Stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. It's a serious condition that should be treated as a medical emergency

Stroke

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Learn more about signs of a stroke and make sure you know what to do in an emergency