Does fainting spell trouble for your teen?
My daughter and I recently visited a friend of hers (who we will call Jennifer for this column) and Jennifer’s mother. As we were standing around chatting, Jennifer suddenly had a mini-seizure and fainted!
She has no history of medical problems. We called 911 and thankfully, a nurse was nearby and came over to help us. Once the paramedics arrived, they performed an EKG, a sugar test and a blood test. All of her tests and vital signs looked normal so they said she could go home.
We figured it had to be the something normal that usually triggers a fainting spell – hunger, low blood sugar or maybe she was even hot and dehydrated. After following up with her pediatrician, Jennifer’s mom said she was told fainting is common during the teen years, especially in pre-pubescent girls. It is important to note there are serious factors such as anemia, eating disorders, or heart problems,that could cause a teen to faint.
So this month I thought I’d share some warning signs, and how to handle a similar situation should the need arise. It’s important to pass this information along to your children as well.
First, according to experts on the subject, when someone faints, it is because changes in the nervous system and circulatory system cause a temporary drop in the amount of blood reaching the brain. When the blood supply is decreased, a person loses consciousness and falls over. The best thing to do is keep the person lying down so her head is at the same level as her heart. This helps restore blood to the brain.
If the person is wearing tight clothing, loosen it as best you can (belts, collars, etc.) to help restore blood flow. Propping the person’s legs up on a backpack or a jacket can also help move the blood back to the brain. Someone who has fainted will usually recover quickly, but it is important to have him/her stay lying down for a few minutes to fully recover. Getting up too quickly could cause another fainting spell.
Remember to call 911 if the person does not regain consciousness within a minute or is having difficulty breathing.
If you are the one feeling ill, or as if you are about to faint, lie down if possible. You can also choose to sit down and put your head between your knees (although lying down is better). Regardless of your position, be sure to get up very slowly (if lying down, come to a sitting position first). Be sure to drink a lot of liquids and start getting your muscles moving by shifting legs back and forth slowly.
It took a while for Jennifer to feel comfortable enough to venture out again on her own to basketball practice, church, and middle school dances. She was afraid of when – or if - a fainting spell might hit again. So far, she hasn’t had another fainting spell. And for now, we’re chalking it up to being a teen - as if puberty isn’t hard enough!
For more information about fainting visit Banner Health's online Health Library Keyword Fainting.