Fainting and Covid Q&A

3rd January 2022 | Dr Boon Lim

Question: I faint. Am I at a higher risk for the Coronavirus?

Answer: Having a tendency to faint without any other of the health conditions outlined in http://www.nhs.uk advice does not put you in a high risk group.Examples of relevant health conditions include: respiratory conditions such as COPD or cardiac conditions  such as heart failure, ischaemic heart disease or high blood pressure.

Fainting invovles a drop in blood pressure and or heart rate. The majority of our patients have a tendency to a LOW not high blood pressure.

Question: I have been feeling / having more faints. Why?

Answer: There is unlikely to be a single answer to this question.

The first thing to ask yourself is are you following all our usual advice? In recent weeks all our lives have had to change in so many ways – many profound some seemingly minor. All of these changes my have an impact on your daily efforts to stop fainting.  Are you drinking more caffeine because you are at home? Are you missing the water cooler at work? Is your food less salty? Little changes in your routine can impact your hydration efforts.

Similarly, mundane changes in how we now  travel and shop may also have an impact. Social distancing now mean longer times spent in queues. Remember your compression tights and/or isometric manoeuvres when waiting for the checkout.

Finally, Covid 19 has presented us all with numerous stressors. We are all faced with dealing with additional social, economic and psychological hardships. Remember, our stress response plays a key role in coordinating our blood pressure control. For some of us these uncommon  and uncertain times will create further triggers

Question: How can I best help myself and others around me?

Palpitations: Individuals with hypermobility and dysautonomia may experience palpitations, which are sensations of a rapid or irregular heartbeat. This can be related to the dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system and increased sensitivity to changes in heart rate.

Chest Pain: Chest pain can be a common symptom in individuals with hypermobility and dysautonomia. It may be related to musculoskeletal issues, such as joint instability or costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum). However, it is important to rule out other potential causes of chest pain to ensure proper management.

Shortness of Breath: Dysautonomia can affect the regulation of breathing, leading to episodes of shortness of breath. This symptom may be triggered by changes in posture, exercise, or emotional stress.

Sweatiness: Excessive sweating, even in non-strenuous situations, can be a manifestation of dysautonomia. The autonomic nervous system plays a role in regulating sweat production, and dysregulation can result in abnormal sweating patterns.

Insomnia: Many individuals with hypermobility and dysautonomia experience sleep disturbances and insomnia. This can be due to pain, discomfort, anxiety, or disruptions in the autonomic regulation of sleep patterns.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS): POTS is a specific form of dysautonomia commonly seen in individuals with hypermobility. It is characterized by an abnormal increase in heart rate upon standing, often accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. POTS can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life.

Question: How can I best help myself and others around me?

Answer: We ALL have a responsibility to follow the advice on social distancing and infection control It is vital that we all take care to frequently wash our hands in hot, soapy water for 20 seconds frequently (especially if we have been outside) or use sanitiser gel and avoid touching our face.

As a fainter, it is now vitally important that you do the ‘basics’ of our Stop fainting advice (hydration, avoiding triggers) well. However, if you do feel faint you must take immediate evasive action (lay down and or raise your legs) to avoid a full loss of consciousness and possible injury.

Some patients have highlighted a reluctance to take action when out because others might think that they are unwell with coronavirus. Your priority to to keep safe. Taking action early will help you to keep safe but also to reassure others that this is ‘normal’ for you and benign. 

Last, but by no means least, it is important to look after our mental and physical wellbeing.  Those at home, use the opportunity to explore meditation, mindfulness and or yoga. Listen to some music or bake – if you can find any flour! Or maybe just limit you consumption to the 24hour news cycle which some can find overwhelming at this time.

For those requiring further support STARS https://www.heartrhythmalliance.org/stars/uk/ offer a valuable telephone and social media platform for people who share your symptoms which you may find helpful.

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