Fainting (Syncope)

Basic Facts

Syncope (pronounced SIN-co-pee) is the medical term for fainting. During an episode of syncope, you lose consciousness, become unresponsive, and your muscles go slack. Before you faint, you might first feel dizzy or hear a “buzzing” in your ears. After a few minutes, you generally recover spontaneously on your own. Injuries from syncope occur in about one-third of patients.

Syncope is very common in older adults. Compared to younger adults, syncope occurs up to twice as often in adults older than 70, and up to four times as often in adults over the age of 80. Syncope accounts for 2%-6% of emergency room visits and 4% of hospital admissions each year.

Last Updated June 2020