My mother has had bouts of fainting and light headedness. Sometimes they come weekly and other times not for 2 months. This has been going on since 2007. She has been admitted to hospital on a number of occasions but each time they have not come to any conclusions as to a diagnosis.
These attacks of light headedness last 2-5 minutes. She slurs her speech, gets pins and needles in her arms, and sometimes but not always faints. More often than not she needs to hold onto something or someone until she feels better. When she regains consciousness she is confused and absolutely exhausted. She says her body feels heavy and she will often sleep for at least a day after an attack.
She has no history of heart or any other illnesses. Her heart has been checked and they seem to think there is nothing wrong with it. She has a stressful private life and job. Could this be anxiety or something more sinister. Could this be something brain related?
Does anyone have any suggestions of things to try, or diagnosis's? Any help would be much appreciated.
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.
Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I cannot tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.
Such spells need a workup to rule out some potential causes
- Vasovagal syncope – Syncope means a transient, self-limited loss of consciousness with an inability to maintain postural tone that is followed by spontaneous recovery. In vasovagal syncope, triggers include prolonged standing, sight of blood, pain, and fear. Before losing consciousness, one can develop nausea, sweating and pale skin. Typically return to consciousness occurs after 1 to 2 minutes. Dehydration and stress can also exacerbate this. It can be diagnosed with a tilt table testring.
Cardiac arrhythmias – which basically mean irregular heart rythms. Some of them can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain because the heart is unable to pump blood effectively. Arrythmias can be detected by wearing a heart rhythm monitor and then looking at the monitor while one has the unresponsive episode.
Seizures – In any spells where a person loses consciousness, it is worthwhile investigating for seizures. The conclusive way of ruling out a seizure is by actually capturing an episode of unresponsiveness while the EEG is attached and then having a neurologist look at the EEG.
Certainly stress can cause symptoms like these but the above three causes should be ruled out. Also she should have routine blood work like complete blood count to rule out anemia, liver and kidney function tests, thyroid function tests, electrolytes. I would recommend seeing the primary care physician for the routine blood work first and then having referrals to cardiologist and neurologists possibly for the workup.
Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
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