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Home Health Library Fainting: First aid

Fainting: First aid

First-aid instructions for fainting.

Fainting occurs when the brain doesn't receive enough blood for a brief time. This causes loss of consciousness. Consciousness is usually regained quickly.

Fainting might have no medical significance. Or the cause can be a serious disorder, occasionally involving the heart. Therefore, treat loss of consciousness as a medical emergency until the symptoms are relieved and the cause is known. Talk to your health care provider if you faint more than once.

If you feel faint

  • Lie down or sit down. To reduce the chance of fainting again, don't get up too quickly.
  • Place your head between your knees if you sit down.

If someone else faints

  • Position the person on the back. If there are no injuries and the person is breathing, raise the person's legs above heart level if possible. Prop up the person's legs about 12 inches (30 centimeters). Loosen belts, collars or other tight clothing.

    To reduce the chance of fainting again, don't get the person up too fast. If the person doesn't regain consciousness within one minute, call 911 or your local emergency number.

  • Check for breathing. Check for a pulse and to see if the person is breathing. If the person is not breathing, begin CPR. Call 911 or your local emergency number. Continue CPR until help arrives or the person begins to breathe.

If the person was injured in a fall associated with a faint, treat bumps, bruises or cuts appropriately. Control bleeding with direct pressure.

Last Updated: April 5th, 2023