There are many different medical conditions that affect millions of people everyday with some being serious and some being just a nuisance. The medical conditions that are just a nuisance often do not have long-term effects and can sometimes be controlled with medications and therapy. There are a lot of various medical conditions out there that cause physical symptoms and one of those conditions is vasovagal syncope. If you have been diagnosed with vasovagal syncope then you might want to read about some of the important aspects of this medical condition that new research is showing.
What is Vasovagal Syncope?
Vasovagal syncope is a medical condition also called neurally mediated syncope and neurocardiogenic syncope and is a very common cause of fainting. Vasovagal syncope results in fainting and blackouts in about half of the people diagnosed with this condition that might occur one time in their lifetime. Vasovagal syncope is not a life-threatening medical condition but you should still seek medical attention because it is an abnormal reflex occurring in the body. If you have vasovagal syncope this means that your heart rate and blood pressure drops which causes blood flow to the brain to decrease. When the blood flow to your brain decreases you will most likely become faint or dizzy and you can become unconscious. If you have vasovagal syncope you should not be too worried because there is no serious risk involved although your doctor might want to run more tests to exclude more serious medical conditions.
Symptoms of Vasovagal Syncope
There are some common symptoms associated with vasovagal syncope and most of them are very minor. You might feel lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated, warm or clammy and have a pale color to your skin. Most of the time you will experience a vasovagal syncope if you are standing or sitting down and rarely does it occur if you are lying down. If this is your first time dealing with these symptoms you might want to consult a doctor to rule out more serious medical conditions or a more serious underlying condition such as heart disease. These symptoms can come and go and do not usually disrupt activities of daily life and you can still manage to work and have a family. If you have been diagnosed with this condition then you will be able to notice the warning signs of an episode coming on and you will be able to sit down or lay down before the symptoms occur. When you are unconscious it is usually for less than a minute and you will still be aware of your surroundings right after the event happens. Since you are only unconscious for such as short period of time, there are no long-lasting neurological effects or brain damage.
Vasovagal syncope often occurs when part of your nervous system malfunctions as a result of a trigger and your heart rate slows as the blood vessels in your legs get bigger. Since the nervous system is responsible for heart rate and blood pressure it is the primary part of the body that is affected when vasovagal syncope occurs. When the vessels in your leg get bigger your blood pressure will end up dropping which slows the heart rate. Once the heart rate decreases you will then have decreased blood flow to the heart and brain which is why you faint. Some common events that might be a trigger are seeing blood, standing for a long time, exposure to heat and fear of bodily harm. If you are nervous about having blood drawn or other laboratory work done or you are constipated then this also might be a trigger for vasovagal syncope.
How Vasovagal Syncope is Diagnosed
When you are going to the doctor to be diagnosed with vasovagal syncope the common way to diagnose it is to rule everything else out. There are a lot of heart conditions that might be causing your fainting so doing tests that relate to your heart are the most common tools for diagnosis. Your doctor might want to give you an electrocardiogram which records the electrical signals of your heart. An electrocardiogram detects irregular heart rhythms and other problems with your heart that might be a cause for your fainting. An echocardiogram might also be done which is just an ultrasound image of your heart that can point out conditions and irregularities. A stress test could also be done which helps determine how your heart reacts during an exercise routine. Commonly you will have to jog or run on a treadmill for a certain period of time so that the doctor can see your heart rhythms accurately. A blood test might also be done to look for conditions of the blood such as anemia which might be a cause to the fainting spell or dizziness you have.
Vasovagal Syncope Treatment
Vasovagal syncope often does not require medication for treatment but sometimes if you have reoccurring episodes medications might be prescribed. If you and your doctor can not find other ways to deal with the triggers and alternative treatment options then medications is probably the only way to get the symptoms under control. Blood pressure medication, antidepressants and blood vessel constrictors are the types of medications you might be put on to treat vasovagal syncope. Blood pressure medications are the most commonly medications prescribed due to the fact they can block a lot of the signals to the brain which might cause the fainting episodes. Antidepressants might be used because they can also stop some of the signals and triggers sent out to the brain and can stop fainting. Blood vessel constrictors might be used because they are used to treat people with low blood pressure which is the main cause of the fainting spells and it can keep your heart rate consistent. If you do not like to use prescription medications then you might also be interested in physical therapies that might be beneficial to you. Some leg exercises might help decrease the blood from collecting in your leg. Elastic stockings might also help control circulation in your legs and keep them from tensing up when you are standing for prolonged periods of time. Also making sure you drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated is also something your doctor might recommend you do for a treatment option and avoid standing in crowded environments. If all else fails then you might have to get a pacemaker inserted surgically into your heart. A pacemaker will help regulate your heart rate and keep you from experiencing the low blood pressure which causes vasovagal syncope.
Some things you can do at home to treat vasovagal syncope involve exercises and dietary changes. Lifting your legs up as you lay down might help stop the symptoms before you faint and also sitting down and placing your head between your legs can help too. You can also increase water intake and start drinking electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade to keep your salt intake at a consistent level. If the weather has been really hot or you have been doing exercises then you should be increasing your fluid intake to help balance out the electrolytes in your body. Vasovagal syncope is a medical condition that you can control by yourself as long as you take the standard precautions in hot weather to protect yourself from experiencing a trigger. Make sure your talk to your doctor if you experience fainting or dizziness as this could be a result of a serious medical condition probably relating to your heart. This information should be used only as a guideline for things to look for if you think you have vasovagal syncope and a diagnosis from a medical professional will confirm your thoughts.