Fainting Spells Spelled Out for Parents


Seeing your child faint can send you into a panic, but you may be relieved to know that fainting is common in older children: about 20 percent of teens report having fainted at least once in their life. Although there is no evidence as to why fainting is more common in teens, some medical experts believe it’s due to hormonal changes or a lack of fluids. But it can also be a sign of more serious conditions, including heart complications.

So if you’re wondering when you should rush off to the nearest ER, here are some facts that may help you prepare better for any future spells.

What Causes Fainting Spells?

Fainting, formally known as “syncope,” is caused by a decrease of blood flow to the brain. It is commonly caused by panic, fear, or anxiety. If your child or teen passes out before or during a performance, you can probably chalk it up to bad nerves. Other less serious causes include standing up too quickly or not drinking enough fluids.

But fainting can also signal an underlying health condition like a heart problem. If your child faints while playing in a basketball game or any other active sport, you should take them to the ER immediately. Regardless of whether your child is prone to fainting from nervousness or from a serious health condition, if they have a history of fainting it’s important for you to inform their school, coach, and other people in your child’s life so they know how to respond. Additionally, although many fainting spells are due to non-serious causes, you always want to prevent injuries that can happen when they fall.

What Does Fainting Feel Like?

The most common symptoms before fainting are feeling dizzy, having tunnel vision with an aura, and muffled hearing. If your child doesn’t look well and tells you, “Mom, I feel dizzy,” make sure to grab hold of them right away and sit them down.

What to Do If Your Child Faints

If your child faints, check to see if they are breathing normally or if they hit their head. If something seems off, take them immediately to the closest emergency room or call 911. This is critical if the fainting happened while your child was being active, like while playing sports or working out. Even if your child appears to be ok, Hospitality Health ER recommends calling your pediatrician so they can tell you whether or not to go to an emergency room or if your child needs to eventually be seen and evaluated.

Common Evaluation Tests for Fainting:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) to assess the heart’s electrical activity and review the heart chambers and coronary arteries
  • Blood Laboratory Testing
  • Heart monitor to record heart rhythm
  • Vital Sign Assessment – Blood Pressure, Pulse Rate, Respiratory Rate and Oxygen saturation
  • CT scan to look for neurological cause