Aging & Health A to Z
Diagnosis & Tests
The history that you—and others who have seen your fainting spells—describe is very helpful in making a diagnosis.
Here are some things you should watch for and tell your healthcare provider about:
- What occurred just before your fainting spell? Were you eating, urinating, coughing, exercising, or standing up from a lying or seated position, for example?
- How long did the fainting spell last?
- How did you feel when you came out of it?
- Do you have any chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations or other symptoms associated with heart problems?
- What medications are you taking, including supplements and over-the-counter medicines?
- Did you feel well before this happened? Did you have a normal intake of food and drink prior to this incident?
Tests you might have include:
- Multiple blood pressure measurements
- Evaluations for heart disease, including:
- an electrocardiogram (ECG)
- a heart monitor that you wear at home (holter monitor). This device monitors your heartbeat while you go about your normal activities, including what you were doing just before a fainting spell.
- A tilt-table test, in which you are strapped to a table that moves from a lying down to an upright position. Changes in symptoms, blood pressure, or heart rhythm in different positions can help pin down the cause of your fainting.
Because fainting can be caused by so many different conditions, your healthcare provider may perform multiple tests. But 50% of the time, your doctor will not be able to find a cause. Consider this good news—it generally means your condition is not life-threatening.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012