Dysautonomia (Autonomic Dysfunction) Community
Frequent Fainting
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This patient support community is for discussions relating to Dysautonomia (Autonomic Dysfunction) including: Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), neurocardiogenic syncope, mitral valve prolapse dysautonomia, pure autonomic failure, autonomic instability and others.

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Frequent Fainting

With the frequent fainting episodes often associated with Autonomic Dysfunction, I'd appreciate some insight from the community on how to prevent injuries.  I, (like many here I'd assume), have had multiple head injuries resulting from my faints.  I've fallen into furniture, down flights of stairs, etc.  It's a concern of mine, even more so after my most recent head injury.

Last summer a couple of us posted ideas about tolerating the summertime heat.  I was thinking it might be helpful to make another list on how to avoid injuries with fainting spells.
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Avatar_f_tn
I've actually fainted twice and fortunately was not injured.  Two other times I prevented myself from a full faint by lying down immediately.  I knew what was about to happen and prevented it.  Do you get pre-syncope warnings or symptoms?  Knowing what these are could maybe signal you to sit or lie down so that you dont fall and get injured.
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Without medication I faint about four times per week.  It's much less with medication thankfully.  Laying down at the first warning is a good idea.  I try to do that as often as possible, but sometimes I'm already at the point where I'm not quite thinking straight.  Still, that one definitely belongs at the top of our list.  :)
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I'm in your boat--multiple weekly faints at my worst.  I also have a head injury with deficit in the temporal lobe of my left cerebral hemisphere to show for it (mostly memory is effected there).  So we have put a lot of effort into reducing the frequency of my faints, and have had some successes too!  

Here are some things that have helped me:
1.  Shower chair and hand-held shower attachment: Because heat intolerance is such a major trigger for syncope, showers/baths are often cited (even in the medical literature) as problematic for those prone to fainting.  Check if your insurance will pay for the shower chair if your doctor writes a prescription for it.  Both my shower chair and hand-held shower head with glide bar (and the installation thereof) were paid for by my Medicare/Medicaid.

2.  Rollator walker: A rollator walker is a wheeled walker with a seat on it.  I use it around the house mainly when transitioning to and from the bathroom (for various reasons a high-risk time for syncope for me), when washing up at the sink to sit instead of standing still for that extended period of time, in public anywhere where there may be situations where I will need to stand in line or be on my feet for prolonged periods of time, etc.  Essentially, it provides me with a personal chair-on-the-go and I know that one of the best ways for me to prevent episodes of syncope is to sit down whenever I get stuck in a situation where I have to stand still.  I'm generally okay walking, but ask me to stand in line or at a counter and there's always a chance it's going to be lights out.  A few times in transitions at home (like going to my bedroom after my shower), I have caught myself getting woozy in the hallway and managed to quickly sit down.  Previously, my only option when "trapped" with the realization that I was about to faint in the hallway was to try to make it to one of the rooms or all the way down to sitting on the floor.  I always fainted before I was able to safely get onto the ground.  The rollator is a closer destination and still visible as my vision begins to tunnel when a faint is coming on; I recommend rollator walkers to anyone with problems similar to mine!!  (Again, talk to your doctor and inquire with your insurance; my walker is being paid for by Medicaid.)

To be continued... I have to run now but I'll add more later... Great idea for a thread!
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492869_tn?1285022533
Excellent ideas!  I've never thought of a "Rollater walker"...  Probably because I've never heard of one until now, LoL!  The concept sounds great though!

I use supplemental oxygen in the shower, and in other situations I may need to stand still for more than a couple of seconds.  I keep a chair in the kitchen to use at the counter, sink, etc.  At the store though, I often resolve to sitting on the floor while waiting in a line.  Like you I have less of a problem walking, but standing still is just about impossible.  When I stand up again though, I'm usually lightheaded and disoriented.

(Supplemental oxygen is something I'd recommend by the way.)  Thank you for adding to the list!  :)
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I think we've talked about it before, but one of the tried and true coping mechanisms for reducing the risk of stairs is crawling or scooting on your bottom.  Not terribly flattering, and definitely not practical in public, but it does cut down the risk of tumbles at home and stairs can be particularly high risk and frightening for us.  (They do make those mechanical chair lifts for stairways, and I believe you can get Medicare/Medicaid/some insurance to pay for them if it is medically justified, but I know many are reluctant to get these for various reasons and renters may be unable to unless they have particularly understanding landlords.  I have never heard of someone getting approved for this based on syncope rather than a mobility issue, so if someone else knows more about insurance re: this, please tell.)

Many of us rest or nap at some point during the day due to symptoms of fatigue either directly from dysautonomia, or as a side effect of medication.  Several people have noted that it seems to be beneficial to take daytime naps/rest in a recliner rather than a bed, so that you're not completely flat, such that the transition back to upright postures is easier when you're ready to return to activity because you haven't completely eliminated orthostatic stress while resting.  (A rapid transition from lying down to standing up can be a high risk for syncope.)

Well, I'm recovering from a faint yesterday so I'm a bit low on energy today.  I'll continue again soon...
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Avatar_f_tn
Can you tell  me more about this supplelemental oxygen?
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492869_tn?1285022533
I use oxygen through a cannula, which is a tube with small holes for delivering oxygen through the nose.  The other end connects to either a concentrator (for when I'm at home), or a tank (for when I'm away from home).  It's not a standard treatment, and I don't use it 24/7, but I have found it to be surprisingly helpful in several situations.

A couple of our community members have mentioned it in the past, but I haven't seen it mentioned recently.  I've been using it for years though.  Here are a couple of incidences that it's been helpful to me:

- After a fainting episode or seizure, it seems to cut the disorientation/confusion period in half.
- It seems to lengthen, (slightly), the warning between the time I start to feel ill, and actually faint.
- Using it in the shower has lessened my shower-related fainting episodes.

I hope this is helpful to you.  Please let me know if you have any other questions about it.
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Another note on oxygen:

I haven't been able to get approved for oxygen use at home, but while inpatient at the hospital I noted that on supplemental oxygen I had MUCH less problems with migraine headaches.  When I discussed this with my doctor, he told me that there is research supporting that oxygen can help alleviate certain types of headaches, so it may be helpful for those with headache symptoms as well.
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That is pretty interesting.  Thansk for explaining.  I take Calritin everyday for allergies and it helps.  However, I always feel stuffy or that I am not breathing properly (when awake).  I almost always breathe through my mouth.  My nose seems to be partially stuffy and/or runny at all times.  I always wonder how that affects my symptoms.
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