16. First Aid for Fainting


Today we will look at fainting & talk about the causes and the signs by which it is possible to recognize fainting. We will also discuss the actions in first aid. Perhaps some of you have seen fainting, that is a sudden loss of consciousness. Maybe someone has experienced such a state himself. Since this is a relatively common case in public places, we decided to include the topic in our first aid training.

Fainting occurs in almost one third of the world's population, both in more healthy people and those who suffer from heart and vessel pathology. The range of diseases leading to fainting is quite broad, it varies from ordinary with a favorable prognosis to severe, life threatening reasons. Fainting is a short term loss of consciousness caused by the impaired cerebral blood supply. In 90% of cases the loss of consciousness last from 5 to 22 seconds, and rarely up to three minutes. The main cause of fainting is a lack of cerebral circulation associated with a sharp drop in blood pressure. The reasons for that, as we have said, can be different. Internal bleeding, or dehydration cases caused by extensive diuretics, frequent vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating during physical work in a hot climate room. Acute poisoning with toxic substances. Intoxication in various infectious diseases. Dangerous heart rhythm disorders are compiled by short term cardiac arrest. Cerebral trauma, epilepsy, acute cerebral circulation disorders, brain tumors, emotional shock, fear, severe pain reaction to the blood flow. A sudden change in body position or prolonged standing, especially in hunger or fatigue, a stuffy room or heatstroke.

You can suspect fainting by specific signs. As a rule, the first signs of a faint are dizziness with ringing in the ears, a feeling of empty head, acute weakness. When the victim sees darkening and flies in their eyes, and feels a cold sweat.

The blood pressure drops, so the skin becomes pale, the pulse weak. Eyes at first wander and then close. Remember, loss of consciousness is preceded by loss of muscle tone, so the victim will slowly settle on the ground or even fall. The recovering consciousness is usually rapid. The victim opens the eyes and restores orientation immediately. Breathing and heart activity normalizes. However, there is still anxiety and fear, especially if it’s the first time to faint. The fainted victim feels weakness, lethargy, & headache. As you have already understood, fainting occurs for various sometimes dangerous reasons.

In fainting the brain suffers from oxygen deprivation, and it is essential to provide first aid to victims immediately. So let's talk about first aid actions. Providing first aid if you see that the person begins to fall, you should support him. It will avoid head trauma after falling. Ask others to call an ambulance or do it yourself as the reasons may vary from simple to life threatening. For an unconscious person, you should quickly make a breathing assessment. That is to determine whether he's breathing or not. If the victim is unconscious and not breathing, you should immediately start CPR and call an ambulance. If the victim is breathing, put him in a horizontal position. Lay the person on the floor and place his legs above his head. That will increase blood flow to the brain. Put a bag, a rolled up blanket or cloth under his feet to fix such position. Turn his head to the side to prevent blocking the airway in case he vomits. The victim has to stay in a horizontal position until the feeling of muscle weakness disappears.

If it is impossible to put the person down, sit him on a chair, bench or floor and lower his head between his knees, that will also cause a blood rush to the head. Make sure to unbuttoned the victims collar, loosen the tie and belt and loosen any tight clothing. You can splash his face with cold water. Do not slap the victim in the face. It is better to rub the ears, as such action provokes the blood flow to the head. Provide access to fresh air. Take the person out of a crowded and stuffy room, open the window and give any influx of oxygen. If a victim naturally breathes but remains unconscious for a long time, it is crucial to ensure free passage of the respiratory tract by tilting his head and lifting the chin. You can also put him to a stable lateral position before the ambulance comes. If the victim feels hungry, you can offer him a sweet tea or coffee. But remember, the sweet carbonated drinks are contraindicated.

If after the recovery the victim has abdominal pain or loss of consciousness after sitting or standing again, you can suspect an orthostatic collapse development, which is a sign of internal bleeding. In this situation, it is essential to hospitalize the victim urgently. After fainting, the victim can carefully stand up, spending some time in a seated position at the beginning. If you called an ambulance, do not leave the victim alone until it arrives. To sum up, you have learnt what fainting is, the most frequent causes and signs of fainting and also how to analyze the first aid algorithm.

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