Have you ever fainted in public? It happened to me several years ago and it totally freaked me out. I’d never fainted before in my life and was terrified that something was seriously wrong with me. My doctors ran tons of tests, including MRI, EEG, Holter Monitor, EKG, etc., but they were all negative.
Finally, they came to the conclusion that I was probably dehydrated. I didn’t think I went that long without water, but now, to avoid fainting, I carry a water bottle everywhere I go.
Fainting (syncope) is caused by a vasovagal response. My sister has fainted numerous times. Vasovageling (my term) is not a dangerous condition in itself unless you fall and hurt yourself. It’s not uncommon for those of us who are over 50. Still, it’s something we should all avoid if possible.
What makes you faint?
Fainting is caused by a drop in blood pressure. Have you ever sat on the pot, trying to crank out a stubborn number 2, and suddenly felt hot or weird? (sorry about the visual) It probably means your blood pressure dropped. If you aren’t careful, you might land butt side up on the floor. Not a pretty picture.
Fear or panic also causes people to faint. My sister blacks out at the mention of having a shot so if you’re like her, make sure to warn the person giving you the shot so you won’t fall off your chair.
Other causes of fainting may include standing up too long, becoming overheated, drinking alcohol when you’re dehydrated, or going too long without eating.
Both times I fainted I had been standing up for a long time on a warm summer day, had a little wine, waited too long to eat, and didn’t drink enough water.
I never want this to happen to me again or to any of you, so I did some research on how to prevent fainting.
The 12 best ways to avoid fainting in public:
- Sip water throughout the day. Professor Richard Sutton, Professor of Cardiology suggests drinking 4 liters a day. That sounds like you have to suck up a lake but staying hydrated is essential. As long as you wet your whistle as soon as you feel thirsty, you should be good.
- Eat MORE salt. We’re always told to eat less salt, but if you faint easily you need more of it. Salt helps to hold water inside your body. If you faint easily, don’t feel guilty about sprinkling a little extra salt on your food.
- Don’t drink alcohol outside your home unless you’re at a friend’s house or in a protected environment. If you’re standing at a cocktail party table drinking, you may find yourself on the floor. Take it from me, passing out in public is embarrassing as hell. And remember, you don’t want to hurt yourself. The phrase, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” has new meaning for me.
- Sleep with your head raised up slightly and your feet elevated. When you wake up, Dr. Sutton suggests you ask someone to bring you a biscuit and tea. He’s English, can’t you tell? I wouldn’t mind having someone bring me a biscuit and tea in bed.
- Eat small and frequent meals. If you vasovagal, like me, don’t cut out snacks. You don’t want your blood sugar levels to drop. Snack on healthy food like a slice of apple or a handful of almonds instead of junk.
- Do “steady” cardiovascular exercise every day. Walking or riding a stationary bike is a good way to do this. To avoid fainting don’t do exercises that cause you to stop and start like interval training.
- Wear support stockings if you have to stand up for a long time. You want to keep the blood in your legs circulating. Better yet, avoid standing in long lines. If you have to, bring a small camp chair.
- Don’t lift objects that are too heavy. When you’re strength training, use light weights with more reps instead of heavy dumbbells.
- Be careful when you get too warm like when you’re in a steam room, sauna, hot car, or in a muggy climate you’re not used to such as the Caribbean.
- Don’t sit on tall chairs at bars or restaurants. If possible, sit in a booth surrounded by people who will catch you. I fainted from a tall bar chair and it wasn’t fun.
- If you feel like you’re going to pass out, hit the floor immediately. Don’t worry about being embarrassed. Sit with your head between your legs or lie on the floor with your feet elevated. If you hesitate, for even a second, you may end up with your face on the barroom floor.
- If you start feeling like you can’t breathe, have chest pain, blurry vision, headache, or you’ve never fainted before, see a doctor immediately. Have a complete medical workup with a cardiologist and neurologist. Don’t take any chances because your condition may be more serious.
Worried about your health?
This post was updated 1/2021
Have you ever fainted? Do you have any tips to avoid fainting you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below.