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Syncope is the same thing as fainting. It’s a temporary loss of consciousness and muscle tone that occurs when not enough blood goes to the brain.
Syncope affects people of all ages, from toddlers to the elderly. More than 100,000 adults and children visit a doctor each year with complaints of fainting spells.
The common reason behind each syncopal or fainting episode is a temporary lack of oxygen-rich (red) blood getting to the brain. Many different problems can cause a decrease in blood flow to the brain. Types of syncope include:
Some children have abnormalities of the structures of the heart that can cause syncopal episodes. Heart defects causing "outflow obstruction" may restrict the blood flow to the body out of the left ventricle, causing them to faint.
Aortic stenosis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diminish the blood flow from the left ventricle through the aorta, and children with these problems may experience syncope.
Irregular or rapid heart rhythms also can trigger syncope.
Yet another cause of syncope can be an inflammation of the heart muscle known as myocarditis. The heart muscle becomes weakened and is not able to pump as well as normal. The body again reacts to decreased blood flow to the brain by fainting.
Other situations or illnesses that can cause syncope include:
Some children will experience presyncope, which is the feeling that they are about to faint. Your child may be able to tell you that he is "about to pass out," "feels like I might faint," "feels like the room is spinning" or "feels dizzy." These sensations usually occur immediately before fainting occurs. There may be enough warning so that your child will be able to sit or lie down before fainting. This can prevent injuries that may occur due to falling.
In other instances, your child will have no presyncopal sensations, but will simply faint.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”