Why Do I Faint?

The doctor wanted to check the pressure in my eye, a procedure that required him to touch my eyeball with an instrument. I knew what was going to happen. It always does. It is the same when a nurse uses a needle to extract blood. Sometimes just talking about injuries has the same effect​—I faint.

According to a British report, some 3 percent of us often faint when we are in one of the aforementioned specific situations. If you are a fellow sufferer, you may have tried in vain to stop yourself from fainting. You might have tried walking to the bathroom to avoid fainting in public. But that is not a good idea. You might faint suddenly on the way and injure yourself. After experiencing this reaction so many times, I decided to find out what causes it.

After talking to a helpful doctor and checking a few books, I found that such an episode is called a vasovagal reaction. * It is thought to be a malfunction of a body system that is meant to regulate blood circulation, such as when you change position from sitting to standing.

In certain circumstances, which may include seeing blood or having your eyes examined, your involuntary nervous system behaves as if you were lying down, when actually you are sitting or standing up. At first, your heart usually races because of anxiety. Then your pulse rate slows precipitously and blood vessels to your legs dilate, or widen. As a result, the blood supply increases to your legs and lessens to your head. Your brain runs short of oxygen, and you faint. How can you prevent this from happening?

You might look away when your blood is being drawn, or you could lie down during the procedure. As mentioned, when a vasovagal reaction is about to begin, you can often recognize the warning signs. So there is usually time to take action before you faint. Many doctors recommend that you lie down and prop your legs up against a chair or a wall. This prevents your blood from draining into your legs, and thus you may be able to prevent the reaction from running its full course. Within just a few minutes, you will probably feel better.

If this information helps you as it has me, you will be able to recognize the signs of an approaching vasovagal reaction. Then you can take prompt action and stop it before it happens.​—Contributed.

[Footnote]

^ par. 4 “Vasovagal” refers to the action upon the blood vessels of a long nerve called the vagus nerve. The Latin word vagus means “wandering.”

[Blurb on page 28]

Lying down during a medical procedure may be helpful