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First Aid When Someone Faints It is said that around 50% of women and 25% of men will faint during their lives. Fainting occurs when blood supply to your brain (hence oxygen) is momentarily inadequate. Often fainting is not due to any medical disorder and the person who faints usually recovers quickly without any residual signs. Fainting can be triggered by emotional stress, pain or prolonged standing. It can also be caused by physical processes such as coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Before someone faints they usually feel dizzy and sweaty. In most cases of fainting, the person regains consciousness within a very short period. If they do not regain consciousness within 2 minutes it can be something more serious and they need urgent treatment. The other serious causes when one loses consciousness without a warning are: stroke,  sudden cardiac arrest unconsciousness following a recent head injury  seizure (fits) .  If a person does not regain consciousness within 2 minutes of fainting it is probable that one of the above causes may be the reason and it should be treated as a medical emergency. You should call for an ambulance immediately and start first aid to keep the patient alive. Stroke: When the blood supply to an area of brain is blocked completely. When a person suffers a stroke they may exhibit one or more of three signs, namely altered facial expression - drooped mouth or eye on one half of the face and inability to smile. Weakness of arm or leg on one side - not able to lift the arm with perhaps numbness in the limb and thirdly altered speech - slurred speech. Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Sudden cardiac arrest is when the pumping action of the heart stops suddenly due to an abnormality in the heart's electrical system (ventricullar fibrillation). This is different from a heart attack (MI) when the person experiences severe chest pain before becoming unconscious.  Head Injury: A person who sustained a recent head injuy may have a lucid interval when they are fully conscious for a while. However they may suddenly become unconscious when the intracranial pressure increases due to delayed intracranial bleeding or when the brain swells due to oedema. This can happen even after a trivial knock on the head as when you hit the head on a hard object. Seizure: A person having a seizure may not show any obvious symptom, but in serious cases lose consciousness or experience convulsions. Seizures usually begin suddenly but are often different in their duration and severity.  What do you do when someone faints:  If you suspect that a person is going to faint, you should lie them down with the head in a lower position and leg raised. This will encourage blood flow to the brain and prevent the person from losing consciousness. If the person has already fainted check the pulse and breathing. If they are both satisfactory, lie the victim on his/her side and open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin up. Monitor their breathing and pulse continuously until they are fully conscious. No further treatment is needed after this. In cases of repeated fainting you should investigate the cause. First aid when a person remains unconscious When someone does not regain consciousness within a minute and a half of fainting, it should be treated as a medical emergency and you need to act fast. Call for an ambulance immediately and do all that is necessary to keep the person alive until medical help arrives.  Check to see if the person is breathing normally and they have a good pulse. If both are satisfactory, turn the patient to his/her side and ensure  breathing is not obstructed by lifting the chin up. This will prevent the tongue falling backwards and obstruct breathing.  If you cannot feel a pulse or the victim stops breathing it is likely that he or she has had a sudden cardiac arrest. It is then necessary to start cardiopulmonary resussitation immediately and maintain CPR until medical help arrives or the individual starts breathing again spontaneously with a normal pulse. K.Badrinath