If you’ve ever fainted (or been around someone who passed out), then you know it can be scary experience for everyone involved. After a fainting spell, it is best to see a neurologist in Leesburg to confirm whether it was a benign occurrence or a sign of something more serious. The medical term for fainting is syncope, and it can be a sign of many underlying medical conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Syncope is formally defined as a temporary loss of consciousness, often connected to inadequate blood flow to the brain. It’s typically triggered by hypotension (blood pressure that’s too low) which means that the heart is unable to pump the right amount of oxygen to the brain.
It’s important to know that syncope is not a disease in itself, but is a symptom that can be caused by a benign event to life-threatening conditions. There are several known types of syncope.
- Cardio-neurogenic (or Vasovagal) Syncope: this is the most common type, and is a result of a sudden drop in blood pressure.
- Situational Syncope: a type of vasovagal syncope; it happens during situations that impact the nervous system, causing an individual to faint. Triggers include intense emotional stress, hunger, pain, dehydration, hyperventilation, and use of drugs or alcohol.
- Postural Syncope (or Postural Hypotension): caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure triggered by a quick position change (e.g. lying down to standing). It can also be caused by dehydration and some types of medication.
- Cardiac Syncope: caused by a blood vessel or heart condition—such as arrhythmia, myocardial ischemia, aortic stenosis, heart failure, and blood clots— that affect the flow of blood to the brain.
- Neurologic Syncope: caused by neurological issues, such as transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke, or seizure. It can also be triggered by normal pressure hydrocephalus and migraines. If this happens, call a neurologist in Leesburg
- Unknown Causes: occurs in approximately 1/3 of patients. Some do experience syncope as a side effect of their medication.
Link to Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
While fairly rare, neurocardiogenic syncope can occur in people who have multiple sclerosis. A quick search online will bring a lot of queries from MS patients regarding fainting spells and MS.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease wherein the sheaths in the spinal cord and brain nerve cells are damaged. It’s chronic, and often progressive. Symptoms of MS include:
- blurred vision
- impairment of muscular coordination and speech
- severe fatigue
A Dulles neurology specialist will be able to diagnose MS when these symptoms manifest. If you’ve been having fainting spells and are worried that it’s related to MS, it’s time to call a neurology specialist to find out exactly what’s going on. The goal is to figure out if the syncope is a symptom of a heart or the brain’s response to triggers.
Syncope is fairly common, but it shouldn’t be treated lightly. It’s important to receive medical attention.