Make it stop!


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Head spins. Nausea. Headache. Sweats. Heart palpations. Not too long ago I was diagnosed with Vasovagal Syncope, also known as Neurocardiogenic syncope. I fainted right in the middle of my English 015 class last year, while at the gym over the summer, and during my physics final senior year in high school. I have come very, very close to fainting countless amount of other times. To say the least, it's a VERY terrible, uncomfortable feeling. Finally, I went to a cardiologist, instead of a normal doctor, and he diagnosed me with this condition that could actually be treated. Thank god!

 

Surprisingly vasovagal syncope is pretty common in people my age. The main cause of this condition is a something that triggers and creates a malfunction with the corresponding part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood pressure. This trigger causes the heart rate to slow, so blood pressure is lowered. In turn, not enough blood is pumped upward which causes dizziness and fainting. This trigger can be many things. It ranges from the sight of blood, to an emotional distress, to an actual bodily reaction (Mayo Clinic). In my case, it is a bodily reaction. My blood pressure is naturally low. Luckily this is easy to solve because there are many ways to increase blood pressure.

 

Like I said, this condition is common. It's said that just about everyone experiences at least one vasovagal episode in his or her lifetime. It's most commonly found in young adults due to stress. There's so much stress from classes, social life, career searching, etc. which can be a trigger for this nervous system malfunction. Because of this, one of the most important things is to know when to see a doctor. Since fainting can be very serious and uncomfortable, seeing a doctor after a fainting episode is necessary. Fainting can be related to many different, more severe, medical conditions so it's always better to be safe than sorry and get yourself checked out (Vasovagal Syncope). If these vasovagal episodes are frequent and there is no other apparent issues it could be related to, you will most likely be diagnosed with vasovagal syncope. In my case, I was put on medicine to help raise my blood pressure by retaining my salt intake. Since this condition ranges greatly from person to person there are many different treats as seen here:

        1. Medications to raise blood pressure

        2. Foot exercises and compression stockings to stop the blood from pooling in your legs  and keep it pumped to your brain

        3. Surgery to implant a pacemaker (rare)

(Mayo Clinic)

 

I think the most important way to take care of this condition is by being educated on it. I was in the dark as to why I was having these fainting episodes at first. I felt so much better once I was educated on the condition. According to About HeartDisease, this is really what you need to know:

 

1. Vasovagal syncope is produced by a reflex that causes sudden dilation of the blood vessels in the legs, causing the blood to pool there.

2. Any condition that causes a bit of dehydration (i.e., a reduction in the overall blood volume) will make you more prone to have a syncopal episode.

3. Most people will have a brief "prodrome" (i.e., a set of characteristic symptoms) that precedes the loss of consciousness. That is, there is usually a warning.

4. If you lie down and elevate your legs when you experience the prodrome, you can prevent the syncopal episode.

Patients will often have occasional periods of days or weeks in which they are particularly prone to vasovagal episodes.

 

Clearly the best way is to avoid the triggers that lead to episodes. The only way you can do this is if you know what those triggers are! I know this helped me! Thank god I no longer have to deal with the pain of vasovagal syncope!

3 Comments

Based off of your article and the links you provided, I might consider seeing a doctor about this. I've had fainting spells since middle school in church, in the shower, at work, or anywhere that requires standing for long periods of time. One time at work they even called me an ambulance! My blood sugar wasn't very low, I had eaten normally those days, and there weren't any very obvious heart conditions that they could find. They just shrugged their shoulders and said "Eh, sit down if you feel dizzy."

This article discusses the triggers of vasovagal syncope http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1767547/

I've never fainted before but it's something I am happy I've yet to experience. A friend of mine suffers from occasional fainting and it's something she doesn't see as a big deal. From your post, however, I can see that there can be much more to the story from this occurrence.

Some reasons why people faint is due to: diseases of the autonomic nervous system, conditions that interfere with the parts of the nervous system, heart or blood vessel problems, and hyperventilation. These range from not to serious to extremely serious, so if fainting is problem, it definitely needs to be dealt with by a professional.

I got my info from:
http://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-fainting-basics

I know that many people will start to black out sometimes when they stand up too quickly. However, this usually happens after sitting for long periods of time. The girl that lives next door to me, however, experiences black outs quite often when standing up, even if she has only been sitting for a few seconds. Another girl I know, since coming to college, has experienced fainting episodes for an unknown reason. This post was very interesting to me and I will definitely mention this to them! Based on the information you provided, I would assume that her fainting episodes are caused by the stress of college. Here is a blog I recently wrote about ways to relieve stress (which I know doesn't apply to you, as you have a physical cause, but others who read this might enjoy).

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