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Helping Someone Who Faints Due to Low Blood Pressure 

Helping Someone Who Faints Due to Low Blood Pressure 

What would you do when someone faints due to low blood pressure? What will be the first thing to check and when should you seek emergency services from St John Ambulance Australia? As you read further in this blog, you will also learn a lifesaving skill – how to handle conscious patients who have nearly fainted.

Identifying a Fainting Episode

Fainting, also known as syncope, is a temporary loss of consciousness. It is generally caused by a temporary reduction in the blood supply to the brain. Before fainting, the casualty may feel light-headed, nauseous, or dizzy and may appear pale and clammy.

Fainting, also known as syncope, is a temporary loss of consciousness. It is generally caused by a temporary reduction in the blood supply to the brain. Before fainting, the casualty may feel light-headed, nauseous, or dizzy and may appear pale and clammy.

Is Passing out a Medical Emergency?

While fainting is often a temporary and benign occurrence, it may signal an underlying medical condition that requires immediate attention. Certain causes, such as heart rhythm disturbances resulting in irregular heartbeats, severe dehydration, neurological issues, or blood loss, can pose serious risks to the affected person’s well-being. Therefore, any episode of fainting should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine its cause and appropriate management, ensuring the best possible outcome and preventing potential complications.

Causes of Fainting

Fainting can be caused by a variety of factors from manageable health issues to life-threatening conditions such as:

  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • A sudden change in position, i.e. from lying down to abruptly standing up, also known as orthostatic or postural hypotension, which results in not enough blood flow to the brain
  • Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Head injuries
  • Stress or fear
  • Poison or Alcohol
  • Heat exhaustion or heat stroke – exposed to heat for long periods
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain
  • Sight of blood
  • Cardiac arrest

Symptoms of Fainting

Syncope often follows a distinctive pattern. Before fainting, individuals may experience warning signs, known as pre-syncope symptoms, which serve as indicators that a fainting episode may occur. These pre-syncope symptoms can include dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling warm or clammy, nausea, visual disturbances such as blurred vision or seeing spots, and a general sense of weakness or feeling about to collapse.

During the actual fainting episode, the person may lose consciousness temporarily and collapse to the ground. Their pulse may weaken, and their skin may appear pale. Breathing can become shallow and rapid, and in some cases, muscle twitches or jerks may occur. After regaining consciousness, the individual may feel disoriented, confused, or fatigued.

First Aid Steps for Fainting in Australia

Oftentimes, the first aid treatment for fainting only involves providing a breath of fresh air, but it’s important to note that a fainting episode can also serve as a warning sign of an underlying medical condition. Immediate medical evaluation is recommended to identify any potential health issues and ensure appropriate care and prevention measures are taken. This is why it’s best to seek emergency help so that healthcare professionals may perform an assessment and give medical advice. However, it would be best to know what to do while waiting for them, which first aid training courses teach you.

Before Fainting:

  • If a casualty is light-headed and appears near to fainting, the best thing to do is to lie him or her down on their back and raise their legs, increasing the blood supply to the brain
  • If the casualty refuses to lie down, keep close to the casualty in case they collapse. Remember also to protect the back – of the casualty is falling, do not attempt to keep them upright, but rather guide them gently down onto the ground
  • Once on the ground, they can be placed in the recovery position

If Unconscious:

  • If they lose consciousness and are unable to respond to stimuli, the first aid advice is to follow the DRSABCD action plan. Fainting usually only lasts from a few seconds to a minute or two, and the casualty may even have a slight seizure.
  • Proper placement into the recovery position by putting a bent knee at the right angle will assist recovery. Once conscious, encourage the casualty to lie down until they feel better, then very gradually move back into an upright position to reduce the risk of fainting again

In detail below are the generalised steps in performing first aid for fainting according to reputable health servicesfact sheets such as the Red Cross:
Ensure Safety: The first step is to ensure the safety of the person who has fainted and those around them. Clear the area of any hazards or potential dangers.
Clear Airway: This is the first in the ABCairway. Gently tilt the person’s head backwards to allow an open airway and check for any blockage that could impede their breathing.
Position: Lay the person on their back in a flat position. If possible, raise their legs above the level of their heart to improve blood flow to the brain. But, if you think there is a spinal injury, wait for the ambulance before moving them.
Loosen Tight Clothing: If the individual is wearing tight clothing, like belts or collars, loosen them to facilitate better blood circulation.
Assess Responsiveness: Try to wake the person by calling their name and gently tapping their shoulders. If they do not respond, proceed with caution.
Call for Help: If the person remains unconscious or experiences chest pain during or after fainting, call for emergency medical assistance immediately. Dial 000 (Australia’s emergency number) and request an ambulance.
Direct Pressure: If there is any bleeding or injury that may have caused the fainting episode, apply direct pressure to control bleeding and prevent further complications.
Monitor Vital Signs: While waiting for medical help, monitor the person’s breathing and pulse. Be prepared to give chest compressions and perform CPR if they stop breathing or if their pulse is absent.
Defibrillator: If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available and the person is unresponsive with no pulse, follow the device’s instructions for using it.

Can Fainting Be Prevented?

According to Healthdirect, fainting can be prevented through:

  • If you’re feeling faint, lie down with your legs raised slightly higher than your head. Be careful when moving and change positions very slowly, especially when moving from a lying or standing position
  • If you’re pregnant, avoid lying on your back, especially during the later months of pregnancy, because the pressure of your expanding uterus (womb) on your major blood vessels may cause you to feel faint.
  • Eating a healthy diet and not missing meals can help. Drink plenty of clear fluid, unless you have an existing medical condition which means this is not possible.
  • If you’ve fainted, you should avoid driving or operating any machinery until you have discussed your fainting with a healthcare professional.

What Causes Low Blood Pressure?

Apart from being very fit, people can have low blood pressure if they:

  • are overheated, either from the weather, from hot baths or showers, or from wearing too many clothes
  • have too little blood circulating, either from donating blood, bleeding heavily or being dehydrated
  • are pregnant
  • are taking one of many different types of medicines
  • have a lot of drugs or alcohol in the system
  • People can also have low blood pressure due to medical conditions, such as if they:
  • are having an allergic reaction
  • are seriously ill with an infection
  • have certain heart conditions
  • have a disorder of the nervous system or glandular (endocrine) system
  • are in severe pain
  • have nutritional deficiencies

There is also a particular type of low blood pressure called ‘postural hypotension’ or ‘orthostatic hypotension. In this condition, a person’s blood pressure is normal when they are sitting or lying down, but it drops suddenly when they stand, making them feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can also occur when standing too long without moving.

Postural hypotension is fairly common, particularly in older people. It can be caused by one of the situations or conditions listed above. If it happens often, or if it causes problems, you should see your doctor about it.

There is also a particular type of low blood pressure called ‘postural hypotension’ or ‘orthostatic hypotension. In this condition, a person’s blood pressure is normal when they are sitting or lying down, but it drops suddenly when they stand, making them feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can also occur when standing too long without moving.

CPR First Aid Australia’s Available Courses

CPR First Aid Australia is one of the providers of first aid courses. Aside from learning how to manage fainting due to low blood pressure, you can choose your preferred courses below:

  • NRT LogoHLTAID009 Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation  
  • NRT LogoHLTAID010 Provide an emergency first aid response  
  • NRT LogoHLTAID011 Provide first aid –  formerly known as Level 2 or Senior First Aid
  • NRT LogoHLTAID012 Provide first aid in an education and care setting
  • NRT LogoHLTAID014 Provide advanced first aid
  • NRT Logo22578VIC Course in First Aid Management of Anaphylaxis
  • NRT Logo22556VIC Course in the Management of Asthma Risks and Emergencies in the Workplace

Do You Need General First Aid Qualification?

We recommend that the NRT LogoHLTAID011 Provide first aid.

  • This also includes CPR qualification. The Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) recommends that this qualification is updated every 3 years.

Do You Need To Update CPR Qualification?

We recommend NRT LogoHLTAID009 Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation.  

  • The Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) recommends that this qualification is updated annually.

Do You Need First Aid Qualification To Work In The Childcare and Education Industry, that Includes Anaphylaxis and Asthma Training?

We recommend NRT LogoHLTAID012 Provide first aid in an education and care setting.

Are You Working With Children?

You will also be required to obtain first aid training qualifications in Asthma and Anaphylaxis. You need to check with the employer before enrolling so that the client gets the correct training for his or her circumstance.

ABOUT CPR FIRST AID

RTO No. 21903: CPR First Aid was founded in 2007. We specialise in providing first aid training in CPR, asthma and anaphylaxis for a range of workplaces including childcare, schools and other industries in NSW, VIC, SA, WA and QLD. We are a Registered Training Organisation with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (No 21903). Our courses and Units are VET-accredited for workplaces in Australia.

Conclusion

The first thing to check when someone faints is the level of consciousness. If the patient is not responding, seek emergency care by dialling triple zero (000). 

When having low blood pressure that causes you to faint, sit up and rest against a wall to aid in recovery. If you can drink, have sips of juice or water. Elevate your feet by about 12 inches. 

These basic first aid tips are essential. You may learn more by enrolling at CPR First Aid Australia RTO NO. 21903 for other emergency cases.

FAQs

What not to do after someone faints?

Do not attempt to make them stand up immediately. Instead, let them remain in a lying or seated position while ensuring their safety and seeking medical assistance if necessary.

What is the difference between fainting and passing out?

Fainting and passing out are interchangeable terms that refer to a temporary loss of consciousness. Both terms describe the same condition in which a person briefly loses consciousness due to reduced blood flow to the brain, often caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Should I go to the hospital after fainting?

Yes, it is advisable to seek medical attention and visit the hospital after fainting, especially if it’s the first occurrence or if there are other concerning symptoms associated with the episode. A medical evaluation can help identify the underlying cause and ensure appropriate treatment and further management.

What is the most common reason for fainting?

Fainting, also known as syncope, is most commonly caused by a temporary drop in blood pressure known as vasovagal syncope. This type of fainting can be triggered by factors like standing up too quickly, emotional stress, dehydration, or prolonged standing.

Does water help after fainting?

While drinking water after fainting is generally a good idea if dehydration is suspected as the cause, it’s essential to proceed cautiously. Offer small sips of water to the person after they regain consciousness, as gulping large amounts might cause them to choke or vomit.

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