Fainting, or syncope as it is medically termed is a sudden, temporary loss of consciousness, after which the patient regains consciousness and a normal state of wakefulness. Syncope is caused when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily inadequate, accompanied by a considerable drop in blood pressure.
The reason for fainting can be as insignificant as dehydration to a serious heart condition and hence should not be taken too lightly. The basic protocol to follow when someone faints till medical help arrives, includes the following –
1. Keep calm as you help them
It is important that you stay calm yourself as you help the patient who just fainted. If you notice a person fainting, catch hold of them and lay them on the ground slowly to stop them from suddenly falling on the ground and injuring their head or any other body part. If a small mob surrounds the person who has just fainted, ask them to move aside so the person has enough fresh air to breathe.
2. Lay them on their back
It is easier for the heart to pump blood to the brain when it is at the same level. So after fainting, you have to ensure to lie them down, or if possible raise their legs to increase the blood flow to the brain. People should generally gain consciousness within 20 seconds to a minute after fainting. If the person has any constrictive or tight clothing that might restrict blood flow, like a tie or a collar, loosen it to make the person more comfortable.
3. Help the person settle down when they regain consciousness
Even if the individual regains consciousness after fainting, they might risk the chance of fainting again. Therefore, make them lay on the ground for 10-15 minutes as this gives enough time to restore blood supply to the brain.
Ask them to sit with their head in their knees, so that the heart and the head are at the same level. Once they have returned to the normal condition, give them water or fruit juice to drink as dehydration and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) are common causes of fainting.
If the person has been injured due to fainting or if any other symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, chest pain, severe headache occur or there is a pre-existing medical condition like pregnancy, high blood pressure, etc they should consult a doctor.
4. What if the person doesn’t regain consciousness?
Call the doctor immediately if the patient doesn’t recover back from fainting. Till then check for the patients’ pulse. The pulse in this condition will be the strongest at the person’s neck. Place your index and middle finger on the person’s neck to check their pulse. Avoid checking the pulse on both the side of the neck at a time as this may compromise the blood supply to the brain.
If possible, raise the person’s feet above the ground to increase the flow of blood to the brain.
5. Initiate a CPR if no pulse is found.
Kneel down next to the person who has fainted, and place the heel of one hand at the centre of a person’s chest. Place the second hand on top of the first and use your whole upper body weight and compress the chest without bending your elbows. Push the chest down at least by two inches, with about 100 compressions a minute. Continue the chest compressions till medical help arrives.