11 Common Reasons For Dizziness and Fainting in Children

Fainting in Children

Childhood fainting is a very common issue and can be attributed to many different things, most of which are not life threatening. It can be very traumatic for both parents and the child who fainted as the common reaction is to think there is something seriously wrong. But again the origin of the fainting spell could be something very simple and harmless.

Doctors will tell you that the most common reason for fainting in children is something called “vasovagal syncope” which is really just a term which refers to a fainting spell. It is basically the temporary loss of consciousness due to a decrease of blood flow to the brain caused by a drop in heart rate and blood pressure. But there are a number of very explainable reasons why a child may faint that are not serious and normally require no additional treatment and these are just a few of them:

1. Dehydration – This is one of the most common reasons for fainting in children and could be the result of vomiting, diarrhea, heat exhaustion or simply lack of fluids. Whenever a child faints one of the first things to check for is if they’re dehydrated and this is especially true during the summer months when kids are playing outside spending extended periods in the hot sun. If the child’s face is red and their hands are cold and clammy, it may simply be a lack of fluids that has brought on the spell.

2. Low Blood Sugar – This is also diet related and a fainting spell can be the result of changes in the blood sugar levels which kids experience many times throughout the day. A child’s brain is very dependent on a good diet with constant levels of ‘sugar’ from the blood to do it’s job and when a child misses a meal or doesn’t eat the right foods, the brain can react and cause Syncope or fainting. This is another very common cause of fainting in children.

3. Sitting or Standing for extended periods of time (posture related fainting) – Sometimes standing or sitting in one spot for a long time can affect how the muscles are able to move blood upwards toward the brain and this leads to ‘pooling’ of blood in the legs and lack of oxygen flowing towards a child’s brain. Before long the child can be become fatigued and a fainting spell can occur. If you’ve ever been to an event where you had to stand for a long time in one spot, you will know what I mean and children can experience this posture related fainting as well.

4. Medications/Drugs – Certain medications your child may be on could be the cause of a fainting spell. Some medications that are used for depression, allergies or anxiety can cause a drop in blood pressure significant enough to result in fainting. Although less common, fainting as a reaction to medications can be mistaken for an overdose so it is always recommended to find medical care immediately if you suspect a child may have fainted due to issues with medications.

5. Fear and Panic Attacks – It could be as simple as listening to a frightening story or watching a horror movie but fear can also result in  fainting. We all have fears and kids have even more of them as they haven’t yet found a way to conquer those fears yet as adults have. As a child’s fear grows they can experience changes in heart beat and blood pressure and loss of breath and this sudden change can also result in  fainting. It is less common but fainting because of being scared should be addressed by your family doctor as there could be some underlying phobias (extreme aversion to something in their lives) that need to be addressed.

6. Pain – According to doctors, when a child experiences severe pain it can affect a very important nerve in the body called the Vagus nerve and this can result in the child fainting. Not every child is the same and some have a higher tolerance for pain than others which is why only some children experience fainting when experiencing physical pain of some sort. Research online shows it is more common when the child experiences severe abdominal pain although no real evidence suggests abdominal pain to be a trigger for fainting.

7. Fatigue – Fatigue, lethargy and lightheadedness are also triggers for a fainting spell in children and this is sometimes brought on by diet, illness or host of other issues. Most fatigue and tiredness related issues that children experience are a result of everyday activities, lack of sleep, psychological problems or sickness, all of which can lead up to high levels of fatigue and possibly fainting. Most times these issues are coupled with a lack of nutrition and bad diet habits.

8. Crowded Rooms / Claustrophobia – You don’t often see children who are uncomfortable in a crowded room or have fears of being in small enclosed places as many children have no fears at all, but there are children who will experience a lot of discomfort in these situations and it can lead to fainting. The anxiety that arises when a child is put into these situations can be unbearable and it can lead to panic attacks and ultimately a fainting spell. When it comes to Claustrophobia, the response to being in a confined place triggers a programmed response in the brain and that response can be anything from anxiety attacks to fainting. About 2-5% of the world population is affected by Claustrophobia although a much smaller percentage of children actually experience fainting issues.

9. Sight of blood – Doctors suggest that there are main adults and children that are affected by the sight of blood and this phenomena probably goes way back to the early times of man with the fainting reaction being embedded in our brains from the start. Although medical experts are not sure, it could be our body’s reaction to losing blood and the body’s need to lower blood pressure and drop the heart rate to slow the bleeding thus creating the perfect environment for a fainting spell. The bottom line is there are many people in the world that feel woozy at the site of blood and it’s not uncommon for a child to experience the same reaction and possibly faint due to it.

10. Hot Showers – Believe it or not, if your children like taking really hot showers they could actually faint! Why you ask? It’s really simple science. When someone takes a hot shower the hot water draws blood close to the skin’s surface to assist in cooling down the body. Because the blood is rushing to cool the body there is a lack of blood going to the brain which can result in lightheadedness and ultimately fainting. So the next time you go into the bathroom while your child is showering and it looks like a hot rain-forest, it might be time to turn down the heat.

11. Heart Related issues – Out of all the different triggers for fainting spells, heart related issues including abnormalities in the heart, skipping beats, etc can be the most troublesome and difficult to deal with when it comes to children. Although I will not go into depth on every heart related issue that can cause fainting, I will say that there are numerous serious issues of the heart that can trigger fainting and there are also many non-life-threatening conditions of the heart that could be the cause. For example, children who eat foods high in caffeine and sugar may experience skipped heart beats and the ‘fluttering’ of missing a beat can result in a possible fainting spell. A simple diet change could fix that issue and it may not be a ‘heart issue’ after all. But as always, if you suspect a possible heart related problem or just want to be sure that the fainting spell is not heart related or serious, please see your pediatrician as soon as possible.

These are some of the more common reasons for fainting in children although I’m sure there are a hundred more that you could come up with. Again, if you suspect the fainting may be related to something more serious or if you just need piece of mind to be sure that your child is OK, then I highly recommend seeing a family doctor to rule out the bad things. And just remember that many of the reasons for fainting are not serious in nature so seek professional medical assistance to put your mind at ease.

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