What is Syncope?
Syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness (fainting) that happens when the brain doesn’t get enough blood. It is actually quite common, occurring most often in adolescence and patients almost always recover on their own in a very short period of time.
What if I didn’t actually pass out, is that something else?
Presyncope is the feeling that one is about to faint, and it is often experienced immediately before a true syncopal episode. There are some people who never pass out but often feel like they might.
Why does it happen?
While there are many different reasons for passing out, in most cases that we see there is a drop in blood pressure which leads to a decrease in the amount of blood going to the brain. The body’s response to this is for you to get lightheaded and dizzy (presyncope) and maybe even pass out (syncope). This is often referred to as “simple fainting”, “vasovagal syncope” or “neurocardiogenic syncope”
Some things patients often describe feeling just before it happens are rapid heart beats (palpitations) and visual disturbances (“seeing spots” or “everything goes dark”). Some patients even recall hearing funny sounds.
Can it be serious?
Simple fainting is only one of many reasons why people pass out and unfortunately, some of them are quite serious. While it is certainly beyond the scope of this site to discuss them in detail, abnormal heart rhythms, poor heart function, and abnormal heart muscles are just a few of the much more serious causes that your doctor may want to rule out before concluding that it was a simple fainting spell.