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Blackouts Part 1 (Teacher: Michael)

Many patients will complain of having had a 'blackout' but this is a vague and certainly overused word. It usually means a loss of consciousness for a few minutes but is often used incorrectly. Patients will sometimes almost boast of having had one of these attacks. It has an alarming sound and to you have had a blackout means that friends and relatives will suitably impressed. But if you enquire carefully, you can nearly always separate the really genuine loss of consciousness from the supposed one.

In a fake faint, the patient's description is very vague. They they dizzy and fuzzy and they going to 'pass out'. They might also they a tightness in the chest and out in a profuse sweat. The alleged blackout may often have on for up to an hour. During a genuine faint there is an actual loss of consciousness because the brain is temporarily deprived of blood. The attack is usually very short and is often caused by some emotional , albeit a temporary one, or by fear.

Waiting to the dentist or taking one's turn in a blood transfusion clinic are typical causes, and they are not uncommon when a patient is having varicose veins treated. Very occasionally, a sudden loss of blood internally - such as from a bleeding stomach ulcer - may cause loss of consciousness and diabetes can cause alarming looking fainting attacks.

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