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Derek1987

Just how dangerous is fainting?

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Monday I had a near fainting spell at my wife's doctor appointment. 2 hours of sitting. Just a few minutes ago I put some clothes in the dryer. I was probably on my feet an hour or 2 today. So I put the last load in the dryer and start walking to the kitchen. Bam I feel the fainting coming on. I rushed to my bed. This terrifies me. Other than the dangers of hitting my head or something, how dangerous is fainting? It is so scary.

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Dear @Derek1987 - I have fainted too many times to count and know how scary it can be. But except for the potential injuries you can aquire from falls syncope in itself is not dangerous. In the common faint ( which they used to call NCS ) there is rapid and complete recovery so - other than a little grogginess - there should not be any lingering effects. Syncope is caused by a temporary loss of blood flow to the brain and is not dangerous as in doing brain damage b/c it is such a short event. However - what LEADS to syncope can be dangerous, like asystole or arrhythmias. In NCS the cause is dysautonomia and is not life-threatening. But it can be controlled and improved in many cases. Have you tried counter-maneuvers? Orthostatic exercises? --- Unfortunately many of us have to live with the fainting and have to adjust our lives around the spells. And - as you are already doing - lie down when you feel it coming on so you don't fall and get hurt. This can be embarrassing - especially in a public place. When I was still able to go to stores I would only go to Walmart b/c I knew where all the benches and bathrooms were and strategically plan my shopping around the store's layout!!! Today I go in a wheel chair, so I no longer have to worry about that. And my husband does the check-out lane. --- I am sorry that you have to live with these episodes and I know how hard it is to live with the uncertainty of how this will all affect your future. But be positive - there is hope. It ís possible to get control over your symptoms . -- BTW there is a great article on the main page under study results about physical counter maneuvers for NCS - that may be helpful for you. Best of luck!!!!!!

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As I have said before on here I've passed out a lot over the years. IDK how dangerous it is for your brain but I wanted to comment that in my experience what you describe above has caused problems for me because of the leaning over. I remember last year when my daughter and her husband were home for Christmas and I leaned over in the kitchen to pick up some shoes or something, I stood up and passed out cold on the tile floor right in front of them. When I came to they were standing over me looking distressed. I said, just give me a minute. My daughter said, it's already been a few minutes. I assured her that it was okay, it happened all the time, got up eventually and went on my way. But I could tell they weren't very reassured since I live alone. But it is what it is so I deal the best I can and try to avoid hurting myself falling. 

I'm a PhD biochemist and have been in clinical and academic medicine my entire adult life (retired now). I've researched the blank out of this and the truth is, beyond the usual combination remedies that the docs give you to try, they really don't know much about it. So I just keep trying things and go on with my life as much as possible. 

For passing out, I've worked on identifying the triggers and beyond that, the cues once it starts and how to best deal with what happens. Your triggers may be specific to you, but I'm pretty sure from what you describe and since it's common, you, like me, get light headed from leaning over some times. If you have to do it, try to stay relaxed and breath. Learn how to do relaxed, deep yoga breathing. You can probably breath your way out of a lot of these near faints if your BP is high enough. Stay hydrated. Don't move too fast. I'm a quick mover with very quick reflexes. That's been a HUGE problem. I was very athletic in the past and every time I get to feeling the least bit better I start moving quickly again. If you do this, work hard to control it in trigger situations.

Not sure you wanted advice but to add to the above here it is. I'm sorry you're going through this. It's really hard to handle the loss of control.   

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As far as I understand, the faint itself is not dangerous.  It is your body's way of restoring blood flow to your brain (get flat again so blood flow returns).  As you said, it is where you faint or what you hit on the way down that can be dangerous.

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Hitting your head due to fainting or fainting while operating heavy machinery are the only dangers that I've ever heard of.  When you're home, especially alone, don't try to make it to anywhere -- get on the floor wherever you are until your body stabilizes. 

I've been fainting for ~25 or so years.  At the worst, multiple times a day.  Other times I can have weeks go by between faints. I'm still embarrassed to admit it, but I do wear a medical helmet when I'm not doing well or times/activities when I'm more likely to faint.  I'm still embarrassed by it, but it has worked wonderfully -- I had my first concussion last year and it wasn't due to fainting.  I was feeling fine so I didn't have my helmet on and whacked my head on a steel beam hard while carrying boxes.  Go figure. 

As @Pistol said, learning what leads up to a faint and recognizing the signs of it can help you prevent it from happening.   Be aware of your body and be prepared to sit when necessary.  Also look up some of the tips given for those with epilepsy.  Not all of it applies to us, but things like grab rails in bathrooms can make life easier and safer. 

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Also - what has helped me a lot is walking close to a wall. When I used to work in a hospital I often could avoid a complete fall by walking close to the walls so when the faint came on I could lean on the wall and gently slide down rather than hitting the floor with a loud thump. Looks more elegant, too!!!!

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The danger part comes in with hitting your head or something. Yes. I get Drop Attacks which is fainting but you remain conscious, I still can collapse if I am standing still or trip when I'm walking but I am always aware. I've had some hematoma the size of golf balls. One of my cardiologist always looks at my shins--my hematomas and tripping worries him. The tripping became part of everything that went into my dysautonomia diagnosis. Last spring I collapsed twice a week apart the same way  with grabbing the table for support on the way down but it wasn't enough so I chicken-winged myself and my shoulder still is not right. It will now dislocate at anytime on its own but it goes back in quick if I manipulate it just right. 😞 I sleep on a heating pad which helps. 

I go to PT twice a week for core and balance and it has been tremendously helpful, I have better ability to hold my body up and my legs are stronger. I just started Mestinon a few weeks ago and it has given me a lot more energy--I'm so much  less likely to collapse or trip now. Please do share your concerns about fainting and injury with your doctors. It may be as simple as one of your drugs is too strong at this time and they can scale it back and/or they recommend exercise or PT. Take the PT script if you can because the DPT will test your abilities and create a program tailored to your capacities and will wisely and slowly increase your strength and balance. Renew the script as often as you can to keep you on track to improvement. You don't want to smash your face and chip your teeth or break your bones. You want to walk and stand with confidence. Fainting is dangerous and should be taken very seriously by you and your doctors. 

 

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10 hours ago, bunny said:

Hitting your head due to fainting or fainting while operating heavy machinery are the only dangers that I've ever heard of.  When you're home, especially alone, don't try to make it to anywhere -- get on the floor wherever you are until your body stabilizes. 

I've been fainting for ~25 or so years.  At the worst, multiple times a day.  Other times I can have weeks go by between faints. I'm still embarrassed to admit it, but I do wear a medical helmet when I'm not doing well or times/activities when I'm more likely to faint.  I'm still embarrassed by it, but it has worked wonderfully -- I had my first concussion last year and it wasn't due to fainting.  I was feeling fine so I didn't have my helmet on and whacked my head on a steel beam hard while carrying boxes.  Go figure. 

As @Pistol said, learning what leads up to a faint and recognizing the signs of it can help you prevent it from happening.   Be aware of your body and be prepared to sit when necessary.  Also look up some of the tips given for those with epilepsy.  Not all of it applies to us, but things like grab rails in bathrooms can make life easier and safer. 

I was driving my car and fainted while pulling up to a stop light. I drove into the bus offloading passengers. No one got hurt, so thankful!, but the passenger side of my van was creamed. The bus driver rubbed my paint off the bus with his elbow. I hit a bus--fainting is dangerous to the public too.

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3 hours ago, WinterSown said:

I was driving my car and fainted while pulling up to a stop light. I drove into the bus offloading passengers. No one got hurt, so thankful!, but the passenger side of my van was creamed. The bus driver rubbed my paint off the bus with his elbow. I hit a bus--fainting is dangerous to the public too.

I'm fortunate enough to have a custom-built car, with my body's limitations in mind.  If it thinks I'm in trouble or if it senses I've passed out it will take over, try to wake me and if that fails, it puts on the hazard lights, pulls off the road, and calls my fiancé.   I'm good about not driving if I'm not feeling well, so we've fortunately not had to use the system.  We did a simulated test and it did what was promised.   

I also have custom-built front seats.  They have ~25-30 or so inflatable air pockets in them which turn the ordinary-looking seat into a tight-fitting orthopedic seat with laterals and the headrest also has extra padding and laterals as well.  It's in both front seats so if my fiancé is driving, I'm still protected in the passenger's seat, even if I pass out.  The seats look normal minus the headrests when the car's off.  Much less embarrassing and more convenient than wearing a 5-point harness.   If for some reason I'm in an accident, the car uses all of these as an air cushion/airbag to protect my weak bones & spine. 

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The new car has OnStar, I refuse to wear a granny beeper.

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Bunny, I had no idea they could make cars to do all that.  So cool.  Reminds me of the 80s TV show Knight Rider. 

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There's a lot of technology out there which is just starting to trickle into cars.  Because of the ways cars are designed, the tech in them is usually a good 5 years behind the consumer electronics market.  Sometimes up to 10 years behind.  

Here's just a few things I mentioned in my earlier post:  

1780702378_AttnGauge.jpg.e196c0f390da81838f47e5a757bb9f82.jpg

Here the car is judging my attention/driving performance. In this case I'm wide awake and feeling good.  If it thinks I'm tired/out of it, the car will suggest that I should pull over and take a rest.  Other things displayed: Green steering wheel = car is driving and steering for me.  Speed limit sign = last speed limit sign the car's cameras have seen & read. It also sends this data to nearby, similarly-equipped cars via 4G.  Green car + speedometer = Car is controlling throttle & brakes and will do a maximum of 70 mph, as set by the cameras reading the speed limit signs.  If the speed limit changes, it'll automatically adjust accordingly.   Likewise, it'll slow down/stop to match traffic around me.  Officially, this is a "driving assist" system, but the car's systems are designed for full autonomous driving. 

 

HeadsUp.jpg.885fbb9f47e6e8f614727b3c37296a5c.jpg

Here the car's performing an attention check on me because it's not happy about my driving.  If I don't react by tapping a button on the steering wheel or actively steer, it'll turn off the stereo and start demanding that I interact with the car.  If I fail to respond appropriately, it'll then start the shutdown sequence, slowing the car down, pulling over, and calling for help. 

 

The interesting parts of the seats are mostly invisible and looks normal.  The headrest changes from factory are well-integrated, but still visible.  The photos don't really show how deep the curve is, but the sides go forward to my ears and holds my head still.  The extra padding is there for comfort & safety.   

Headrest1.jpg.6664361fb389902251aa3662f0b39baa.jpgHeadrest2.jpg.e326876fb9b0aee7ce32a416804fdc36.jpg

This car really does help me. It's been an absolute blessing.  All of the advanced features keep me safe first and foremost, but they also make driving easier which allows me to drive for longer distances before I need to take a rest.  

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9 hours ago, bunny said:

There's a lot of technology out there which is just starting to trickle into cars.  Because of the ways cars are designed, the tech in them is usually a good 5 years behind the consumer electronics market.  Sometimes up to 10 years behind.  

Here's just a few things I mentioned in my earlier post:  

1780702378_AttnGauge.jpg.e196c0f390da81838f47e5a757bb9f82.jpg

Here the car is judging my attention/driving performance. In this case I'm wide awake and feeling good.  If it thinks I'm tired/out of it, the car will suggest that I should pull over and take a rest.  Other things displayed: Green steering wheel = car is driving and steering for me.  Speed limit sign = last speed limit sign the car's cameras have seen & read. It also sends this data to nearby, similarly-equipped cars via 4G.  Green car + speedometer = Car is controlling throttle & brakes and will do a maximum of 70 mph, as set by the cameras reading the speed limit signs.  If the speed limit changes, it'll automatically adjust accordingly.   Likewise, it'll slow down/stop to match traffic around me.  Officially, this is a "driving assist" system, but the car's systems are designed for full autonomous driving. 

 

HeadsUp.jpg.885fbb9f47e6e8f614727b3c37296a5c.jpg

Here the car's performing an attention check on me because it's not happy about my driving.  If I don't react by tapping a button on the steering wheel or actively steer, it'll turn off the stereo and start demanding that I interact with the car.  If I fail to respond appropriately, it'll then start the shutdown sequence, slowing the car down, pulling over, and calling for help. 

 

The interesting parts of the seats are mostly invisible and looks normal.  The headrest changes from factory are well-integrated, but still visible.  The photos don't really show how deep the curve is, but the sides go forward to my ears and holds my head still.  The extra padding is there for comfort & safety.   

Headrest1.jpg.6664361fb389902251aa3662f0b39baa.jpgHeadrest2.jpg.e326876fb9b0aee7ce32a416804fdc36.jpg

This car really does help me. It's been an absolute blessing.  All of the advanced features keep me safe first and foremost, but they also make driving easier which allows me to drive for longer distances before I need to take a rest.  

Looks and sounds expensive 😨

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In the overall scheme of things, it was a bargain.  All of the enhancements done to the car were by the manufacturer and no "medical devices" were used.  It seems like once you stamp something as "medical" the price automatically triples. 

The options/modifications related to the drive systems & seats added about $2,500 to the price of car.  I did get other options such as the glass dashboard & heads-up display, BUT those are admittedly superfluous.  

Considering that in the USA: a 2-week course of Dificid pills for C.Diff goes for ~$4,000, custom wheelchairs easily exceed $2,000, MRIs are $500-$1,500, and even my medical helmet was just under $400 ... I'd dare say it's cheap. 

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