First Aid and Treatment
Fainting is defined as a brief loss of consciousness. There
are many different causes for fainting. Fainting may be a
response to a vasovagal event, which we will talk about later.
Other causes can be hypovolemia, loss of body fluids, as well
as loss of blood. Cardiac and neurological problems can also
most common cause of fainting is a vasovagal response to stimulation
of the vagus nerve, which causes the heart to slow down, resulting
in not enough blood getting to the brain, causing the individual
to pass out. This may also be caused by visual stimuli, for
example individuals who pass out at the sight of blood. It
can also occur when individuals are in a supine, lying down
position. Once the person falls to the ground, the heart rate
picks up and the individual may become tachycardic while the
heart tries to compensate and get blood back to the brain.
In this situation, applying cool compresses to the head and
neck would be of benefit and also improve the patient’s
comfort level. Raising the legs higher than the heart is very
important as it facilitates the flow of blood back to the
brain/body as quickly as possible. Individuals may appear
to experience a seizure as demonstrated by jerking and eyes
rolling back into the head, which can be frightening to an
observer. Reassurance needs to the given to the patient, and
they usually do quite well. It is also important to document
a history of this; when you go into a healthcare provider’s
for a blood draw or any procedure, to let the nurse and provider
know that you have a history of vasovagal type responses.
Elevate the individual’s legs.
Cool compresses to the forehead.
If the patient does not come around and become conscious
within 2-3 minutes, call 911 and transport immediately to
In fainting episodes where individuals do become responsive,
it is advisable within the first 24-48 hours that they be
evaluated by a healthcare provider, especially individuals
over 50 years old, to rule out an underlying cause such
as cardiac or neurological abnormalities.