Dizziness when eyes are closed

Some people may feel dizzy during or after exercise.

A sudden drop in blood pressure can cause fainting. This is called syncope. Syncope is a temporary loss of consciousness. It can be caused by many things, including:

  • An abrupt drop in blood pressure
  • An abrupt change in the amount of oxygen in the blood
  • An extreme rise in carbon dioxide in the blood
  • A condition that affects the way the brain works

If you faint, you may feel lightheaded. Fainting is a medical emergency.

What causes fainting?

Certain medical conditions and medications can cause fainting.

Fainting is classified as a syncopal event. A syncopal event is a sudden, severe loss of consciousness.

A syncopal event can be caused by:

  • A low blood sugar level that lasts for several hours
  • A heart attack
  • A severe headache
  • A high blood pressure or low blood pressure
  • A high fever
  • A severe allergic reaction
  • A stroke
  • A medication or substance that causes the body to go into shock

Fainting can also be caused by:

  • Anxiety
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Extreme exercise
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Cold exposure
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Hormonal changes
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood sugar
  • Pregnancy
  • Seizures
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Trauma
  • Withdrawal from an illegal drug

What are the symptoms of fainting?

The symptoms of fainting vary from person to person. The symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • A feeling of “going out”
  • Cold sweats
  • Fast breathing or heartbeat
  • Feeling as if you are going to faint
  • Feeling very tired

What are the risk factors for fainting?

Certain factors can increase your risk of fainting. These include:

  • Having a heart condition, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or a history of stroke
  • Being over the age of 65 years
  • Being over the age of 20 years and having an unstable heart condition
  • Having any known condition that affects the heart, including heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, or valve disorder
  • Taking medications that can cause fainting, such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, or nitrates
  • Having a history of seizures or epilepsy
  • Having a history of drug or alcohol abuse

Other risk factors for fainting include:

  • Being obese
  • Having a history of fainting
  • Being dehydrated
  • Being at a high altitude

If you have risk factors for fainting, your doctor may recommend that you take precautions to prevent fainting.

How is fainting diagnosed?

If you have fainting, your doctor will take a detailed medical history and do a physical examination. They may order the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Nuclear cardiology
  • Pulmonary function tests

How is fainting treated?

If you have fainting, your doctor may prescribe an anticonvulsant medicine. This medication can help prevent fainting.

Anticonvulsants can be prescribed alone or in combination with other medications.

If you have fainting after stopping an anticonvulsant, your doctor will monitor you closely for any side effects. Your doctor may need to adjust your dosage.

If you are taking medications that cause fainting, your doctor will monitor you closely and adjust your dosage if necessary.

What is the long-term outlook?

If you faint, you may have temporary symptoms. But you can usually recover from fainting if you follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan.

If you are taking medications that cause fainting, talk with your doctor about other options. They can help you manage the side effects of your medication.

You may find that you can manage your fainting symptoms better with medications and lifestyle changes.

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the condition that caused fainting.

They can help you recover from fainting.

Medications that help prevent fainting include:

  • Antiseizure drugs, such as gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), and topiramate (Topamax)
  • Beta blockers, such as propranolol (Inderal LA), metoprolol (Lopressor), and timolol (Blocadren)
  • Calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine (Norvasc) and nifedipine (Adalat)
  • Nitrates, such as isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil), isosorbide mononitrate (Somatran), and isosorbide nitrate (Procardia)
  • Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and fexofenadine (Allegra)

Medications that treat fainting include:

  • Glucagon

Glucagon is a hormone that comes from the pancreas. It can be injected into your bloodstream to help prevent fainting.

Side effects of glucagon include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches

Antihistamines

Antihistamines can help reduce the number of episodes of fainting.

They can also help treat symptoms such as:

  • Dizzayness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomit
  • Dry mouth

Antidepressants

Antidepressants can help reduce the number of fainting episodes. Your doctor may recommend them if you have:

  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse

Antidepressants can help treat the following:

  • Dizzaynes
  • Insomnia

Antidepressants can be used in conjunction with other treatments for fainting, such as antiseizure drugs, beta blockers, anticonvulsants, and glucagon.

Other medications

Your doctor may recommend other medications for you to take if you have fainting.

For example:

  • Antiseizure drugs can help prevent fainting.
  • Beta blockers can help prevent fainting.
  • Calcium channel blockers can help prevent fainting.
  • Antihistamines can help treat symptoms such as dizzaynes and drowsiness.

Your doctor will also monitor you closely if you are taking medications that cause fainting. They will adjust your dosage as necessary.

Living with fainting

If you faint, follow your doctor’s instructions for recovery. If you have fainting episodes after stopping an anticonvulsant, talk with your doctor about possible drug interactions. Also, talk with your doctor if you find that your fainting episodes are more frequent or severe after stopping your medication.

You can also practice common fainting recovery techniques. These include:

  • Stay calm.
  • Sit in a chair or lie down.
  • Rest.
  • Drink water.
  • If you feel dizzy, sit or lay down.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:

  • The name of the test or procedure

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