Watching someone faint can be scary, and you might feel helpless if you don't know how to look after them.
Why do people faint?
People can faint for many reasons, and the cause is not always immediately apparent. Some reasons someone faints are dietary: they may suffer from low blood sugar or dehydration. Other potential factors are physiological in nature and can include low blood pressure, oxygen deficiency, blood loss, head injuries and heat stroke.
In most cases, the first aid you provide to someone who has fainted is the same regardless of the cause of their fainting spell.
What to do if someone faints?
1. React and call
If someone is standing when they faint, catch them, gently lower them to the floor and call 911. If they have tight-fitting clothing, loosen it to the best of your ability. Anyone who loses consciousness for even a moment should get evaluated by a medical professional.
2. Check Vitals
Examine the person and check for breathing, a pulse, and anything lodged in the throat. If you see something in their throat that is loose, reach into their mouth and remove it. If the object is tight or firmly anchored, do not try to grip it, but start CPR.
In any scenario where a person stops breathing or does not have a pulse, you should perform an appropriate version of CPR depending on the cause of unconsciousness, the age of the victim and your training.
If the victim is breathing, you can gently roll the person onto his or her side. After you do so, position the victim's head so it isn't tilted too far down or too far up and make sure their airway is open.
If you think the unconscious state is the result of a spinal injury, don't try to readjust the victim unless he or she begins to vomit. In this event, roll the person onto their side in one swift motion and do your best not to jostle the head and back. Do not move someone who might have a spinal injury unless necessary.
Stay with the person and continuously monitor their breathing. Try to keep the victim warm until medical personnel arrives. If they stop breathing while waiting for medical personnel, start CPR.
If you or a loved one experiences any kind of emergency, you can trust the experienced staff of the St. Luke's Health emergency room. Find your nearest location so you know where to go when minutes matter.
NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine | Unconsciousness - first aid
Healthline | First Aid for Unconsciousness
NSC | CPR Steps: Learn How to Save a Life