The short answer is ‘yes.’ If you have fainted, you should see a physician or visit an emergency room right away to identify the cause of your fainting and to ensure you do not have a serious underlying condition. Generally, fainting indicates a drop in blood pressure resulting in too little blood (and, hence, oxygen) reaching your brain. This can be caused by a variety of conditions, some of which are very serious.
If you faint, even for a few seconds, you should visit one of Emergency Hospital System’s emergency rooms as soon as possible to be evaluated by one of our physicians. If you cannot reach one of the EHS emergency rooms, then you should go to the nearest ER available to you. Even if you believe you know the cause of your ‘blacking out,’ it is best to have a doctor examine you. Our physicians at EHS will diagnose your condition and prescribe the proper course of action or treatment.
Sometimes a fainting spell may only last a few seconds while in other cases a person may become unconscious for much longer. Even very short fainting episodes may signal a serious problem. There are many reasons for reduced blood flow to the brain, some of which are serious and may require treatment or, even, hospitalization. Some of the most common causes for fainting are discussed below.
One of the most frequent types of fainting occurs in children and young adults and is referred to as a vasovagal attack. This particular type of fainting episode occurs when a blood pressure drop causes reduced oxygen to the brain. It may be caused by prolonged standing, anxiety or panic attacks, alcohol or drug use, or, even, hunger. Although this type fainting is not a result of an underlying heart or neurological problem, nevertheless, it should be checked out by a physician.
Other common causes of fainting include:
- Conditions that interfere with the nervous system. Some conditions hinder the proper function of the nervous system which regulates heart rates and blood flow. This interference can cause low levels of oxygen to the brain. Some of these conditions include diabetes, amyloidosis (waxy buildup in tissues), alcoholism, and malnutrition. Occasionally, blood pressure medications may contribute to fainting.
- Problems with the heart or blood vessels. Some conditions related to the heart and vessels can also cause restricted blood flow to the brain. These include various forms of heart arrhythmias, blood clots in the lungs, and improper functioning of the heart’s aortic valve. Heart arrhythmias (irregular or erratic heartbeat) can interfere with or reduce the flow of blood to the brain resulting in a fainting spell. Arrhythmias are also a leading risk factor for strokes and should be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Problems with the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is a part of the total nervous system and controls involuntary body functions such as heartbeat, blood vessel constrictions, and lung functions. This system may develop many complex conditions which can limit the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. Fainting can be the result of various complex internal physiological conditions, many of which can be severe. Associated symptoms include erectile dysfunction as well as loss of bowel or bladder function.
- Other causes which may result in fainting include hyperventilation, some types of inflammation, and, even, excessive coughing.
Fainting requires an evaluation by a medical professional to determine whether or not medical treatment or, even, hospitalization is needed due to some underlying problem.
If you have had a fainting ‘spell,’ or have felt dizzy to the point of passing out, you should go to an emergency room such as one of Emergency Hospital Systems’ ER’s where the medical staff can evaluate your situation. Our ER’s are open 24/7/365 and offer five convenient locations to serve you. You can call ahead for an appointment or simply ‘walk-in.’ Our staff is here to serve you and our wait times are short. Our facilities are conveniently located in the neighborhoods we serve in Cleveland (2 locations), Porter, Deerbrook, and the Woodlands. We offer a full range of medical services so, for any medical condition requiring attention, call or stop by one of our facilities. Phone for information, 281-592-5400.