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Syncope, also known as fainting or passing out, is a temporary loss of consciousness and muscle tone caused by a sudden drop in blood flow to the brain. When the brain does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, the individual loses consciousness for a short period. Syncope is usually a benign and self-limiting event, but it can be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires medical attention.

Symptoms and Causes of Syncope

Symptoms of syncope include

  • lightheadedness,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea,
  • sweating, and
  • visual disturbances,

followed by loss of consciousness. The individual usually recovers quickly and without any lasting effects.

There are several causes of syncope. Neurocardiogenic syncope (NCS), also known as vasovagal syncope is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate, usually due to a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. It is often triggered by emotional or physical stress, such as fear, pain, or dehydration. Orthostatic hypotension is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing up. Cardiac syncope is caused by a problem with the heart such as an arrhythmia, blockage, or structural problem. Reflex anoxic seizures are common in children. It’s caused by a sudden drop in blood flow to the brain due to the reflex response to a variety of stimuli such as coughing, swallowing, or even a loud noise.

Treatment for Syncope

Syncope can be diagnosed based on the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and the results of various tests such as ECG, and Holter monitor. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause if known. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary, and the syncope will resolve on its own. In other cases, treatment may include medication, lifestyle changes, or in some cases, therapy or surgery. Syncope treatment in Arizona is offered at Arizona Neurology and Sleep Center.


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