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Fainting in pediatric patients By: Caitlin Krause

Fainting

Fainting in pediatric patients:

”Fainting (syncope) is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness during which the person falls to the ground or slumps in a chair followed by a return to consciousness. The person is motionless and limp and usually has cool legs and arms, a weak pulse, and shallow bl'eathing.” (Merck Manual, 2020)

Children may faint for many different reasons: when they see blood, if they are in pain, from holding their

breath, coughing, straining, or when they are experiencing strong emotions. Sometimes children can faint when

they stand up too quickly. When this happens, blood flow to the brain is reduced and causes fainting.

Before fainting, many children experience a group of symptoms: sweating, suddenly warm, nausea, dizziness,

and become very pale. During a fainting spell, some children may twitch their arms and legs which may look like

a seizure.

This is called a vasovagal syncopal episode. It is usually not serious, and most children grow out of this. Children

will usually wake up with in a minute.

Here’s how you can help your child when they faint:

It is important to teach your child warning signs that they are about to faint. Teach them to lay down when they

feel they are going to faint and call out for help.

When to call 911:

References:

Merck Manuals. (2020) ”Fainting”

Healthwise, Incorporated. (2017). Fainting in children: care instructions

UptoDate. (2019). Causes of syncope in children and adolescents.

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