First Aid: Fainting

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First Aid

Fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness that can happen because of dehydration, overheating, low blood sugar, exhaustion, an underlying condition, or sometimes emotional stress. It's important to get medical care to figure out what brought on the fainting episode and help prevent it from happening again.

Signs and Symptoms

Someone who is about to faint might have:

What to Do

Whether your child is about to faint or already fainted: loosen tight clothing, make sure the area is well-ventilated, wipe your child's face with a cool washcloth, and don't let him or her stand or walk until feeling much better.

If your child seems about to faint:

  • Have him or her lie down or sit down with the head between the knees.

If your child has fainted:

  • Have him or her lie flat with feet slightly elevated. Avoid moving the child if you suspect any injuries from falling.

Contact your child's doctor about any fainting episode.

Seek Emergency Medical Care

If Your Child:

  • fell and may be hurt
  • is having trouble speaking, seeing, or moving
  • has chest pain, or a rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • is having a seizure
  • was physically active when it happened

Think Prevention!

Make sure kids:

  • drink plenty of fluids, especially in hot weather or during physical activity
  • take frequent breaks and move around as much as possible when sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • slowly breathe into a paper bag when they are anxious and breathing too fast
  • avoid overheated, cramped, or stuffy environments

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014

Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.

Related Articles

First Aid: Falls Although most result in mild bumps and bruises, some falls can cause serious injuries that need medical attention.
Breath-Holding Spells Kids who have these spells hold their breath until they pass out. Although upsetting to watch, the spells are not harmful and do not pose any serious, long-term health risks.
A to Z Symptoms: Fainting In most cases, fainting is not a sign of a dangerous problem, but should still be discussed with a doctor.
Is It Normal for Children to Hold Their Breath? Find out what the experts have to say.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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