What Can Family and Friends Do?

The focus of Stop Fainting is on the individual who faints with vasovagal syncope, and the ways in which this can impact their lives. However, the condition can also have implications for their partner, family, friends and workmates. The most immediate impact on them is that they are likely to be there when you feel faint or have fainted. So what do you do when somebody faints? What don’t you do? Here the Stop Fainting team offers some reasons why it’s a good idea to tell people you can feel faint, and simple tips or Dos and Don'ts to help friends and family.

The patients we see usually come with members of their family or friends. They often provide us with very useful information about an event  as the patient themselves was unconscious for part of it! Read Top Tips for helping your GP get the right diagnosis. However, they also tell us how alarming a faint can be for those watching. In addition to their concern for the person who has fainted, they often have felt a bit scared, powerless or unsure how to react.

This lack of knowledge and fear of doing the wrong thing can be stressful. For these reasons we always would seek to involve friends and relatives in our information giving and encourage patients to share what they know about their condition with friends and workmates if possible.

In forthcoming articles we will be talking about the different ways people can manage their tendency to faint and how it can impact on their relationships with others. However, telling your partner, workmate, teacher, priest, golf buddy etc  that you can feel faint and how they can help can help avoid unnecessary 999 calls, the prevention of a loss of consciousness, injury or, at the very least, promote a quicker recovery. It will also help others around you help and feel more comfortable. In empowering others you can empower yourself.

DOs and DON’Ts When Someone You Know Faints

  • DON’T PANIC!
  • DO keep calm! Remember Fainting is, in itself, not a life threatening event. However, a helpful response from you can help abort a full loss of consciousness and/or avoid injuries which may happen if they collapse.
  • DON’T attempt to walk people over to a sofa/bed/chair another room if someone tells you they feel faint and need to get down.
  • DO remember that the only thing that matters is to return blood back to the brain. The body does not care if the sofa may be more comfortable and you risk having them faint on the way. Do remember there is nothing wrong with helping them to the ground where they are.
  • DON’T be tempted to lift someone’s head up or prop then up when they have fainted.
  • DO raise their legs, if you can, to promote the return of blood back to the heart and brain
  • DON’T be tempted throw water over them or slap their face to ‘bring them round’. It is not necessary and it will only annoy them !
  • DO calmly talk to them so that when they do recover they hear a calm reassuring voice.
  • DON’T attempt to get them to drink or eat whilst they are not responding to you.
  • DO offer them water when they are fully conscious.
  • DON’T worry if they make a noise or twitch when unconscious not all people who faint look as though they are sleeping.
  • DO pay attention to how they behave and how long they are unconscious and feed that back to them afterwards.
  • DON’T try to get them up as soon as you think that they have regained consciousness.
  • DO wait for them to tell you they feel well enough to sit up or stand but DO encourage them to remain lying down or sitting if they still seem unwell.

Encourage others to learn more about how to prevent you fainting, or learn more yourself, by reading more about how to stop feeling faint by reading the suggested articles below and watching Dr Lim’s Top Tips to Prevent Fainting below.

Share this article

About the author

stop fainting team

Stop Fainting Team

The core team of STOP FAINTING currently work together in the Syncope Diagnostic Unit at the Hammersmith Hospital - a busy tertiary Cardiology centre in London, UK. Over the past 6 years the team has developed a number of key collaborative relationships through our clinical work, research and lecturing roles. We have drawn on these relationships to develop our service and to contribute to StopFainting.com.