Fainting is a sudden, usually temporary loss of consciousness often caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. When a person is unconscious they are unable to respond.

Fainting is often caused by low blood pressure, although there are other causes.

The symptoms usually progress from dizziness, clamminess (cold and damp) of the skin, a blurring of vision, paleness, nausea, complete loss of vision, weakness of limbs, through to a collapse.

Fainting is actually the body’s way of getting the head to be at the same level as the heart level to allow oxygen rich blood to flow to the head.

Shortly after you recover, you should be able to sit up slowly.


Fainting can be caused by a variety of things such as:

  • severe pain
  • excessive heat
  • standing up too quickly
  • dehydration
  • emotional stress
  • low blood pressure
  • low blood sugar
  • prolonged coughing
  • prolonged standing
  • straining to pass a bowel motion
  • certain medications, especially those used for blood pressure control.


  • ensure a responsible adult is with you for the next 24 hours
  • ensure you are in easy reach of a working telephone
  • rest quietly for the rest of the day
  • avoid strenuous exercise for the next 48 hours
  • avoid alcohol and recreational drugs as this may cause a drop in blood pressure
  • take usual medications unless told otherwise by the clinician
  • drink plenty of fluid
  • eat a balanced diet
  • stand up slowly from a lying or sitting position
  • avoid prolonged bedrest.


  • operate machinery or drive for 24 hours following a fainting episode
  • take any sleeping tablets or sedatives unless directed by your doctor/nurse practitioner
  • have a hot bath or shower.

Tips if you feel faint:

  • Lie down and raise your feet higher than your head.
  • If you are not able to lie down, sit down and place your head between your knees. Stay like this until you feel better and then slowly get up.
  • Get some fresh air.
  • When you return home, advise the person with you that if you faint again and do not regain consciousness to call an ambulance.

See your family GP or go to an emergency department if you develop any of the following:

  • irregular heartbeat
  • slurred speech
  • chest pain
  • ongoing blurred vision
  • shortness of breath
  • disoriented feeling.

Where to get help

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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