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October 2014

Fainting is one of most common medical incidents at LIM College. During the recent New Student Orientation Emergency Response Training session, the presenter asked the audience for a show of hands of those who had previously fainted. Well over half of the nearly 300 students raised their hands. Fainting also accounts for approximate 3% of all hospital visits and 6% of hospital admissions within the United States every year1. Given historical data and knowing the demographics of the student body, it is safe to say that at least one student will faint at LIM College during this academic year. Hopefully this article can help make that statement incorrect!!

Why do people faint?

Fainting is caused by a sudden decrease of oxygenated blood flow to the brain. Physiologically, the heart rate drops while at the same time blood vessels in the legs relax. This causes blood to move to the legs and away from the heart and brain.

There are many medical conditions that cause individuals to faint but it can also occur in perfectly healthy individuals. Fainting can be triggered by anxiety, fear, pain, intense emotional stress, hunger, dehydration, and/or prolonged standing.

A lack of water and food, particularly in the morning can increase the likelihood of fainting.

What are the common signs of fainting?

Fainting symptoms include a feeling of warmth, nausea, lightheadedness, visual “grayout”/tunnel vision, turning pale, becoming dizzy and feeling clammy.

How to prevent fainting

Staying properly hydrated and eating breakfast can help reduce the likelihood of fainting. When standing still for long periods of time, frequently bend your knees and sway back and forth. If you know you might experience something alarming, such as being given a shot or giving blood, sit or lie down and/or wear compression socks.

It is also helpful to keep food and water with you while attending classes and moving around the City. A protein bar and a full LIM College water bottle are highly recommended!

What to do when you feel it coming on?

If you feel faint, it is important to take the signs seriously. Let someone know how you are feeling immediately. Most serious injuries from fainting are the result of a fall. If you feel the symptoms coming on, it is best to sit down and put your head between your knees or lie down and elevate your legs. If putting your head between your legs inhibits your breathing, it is best to lie down with your legs elevated. Drink water and have something high in calories to eat. You will normally feel better within a few minutes.

Tensing the muscles in your hands, arms, and legs (see "Squeezing away a faint") can also help those who are composed enough to remember these maneuvers.2

illustration of muscle contractions that may help prevent fainting

Squeezing away the faint

What do I do if I see someone who is about to faint or has fainted?

If you see someone faint or about to faint, have them lie down and elevate their feet above their head.


Fainting victims typically regain consciousness within moments. If this is the case, keep them lying down and provide water and food. Call for assistance from a teacher, administrator, RA or member of the Building Emergency Response Team.

If the situation is an emergency which includes the person not waking up or returning to normal mentation, call 911 or have someone call 911. Additionally, call the LIM College Emergency Response Line by dialing 711 from a LIM Phone or by calling (212) 310-0660.
While awaiting the ambulance, collect as much information from the patient as possible including allergies, medications, food and beverages recently consumed, existing medical conditions, history of fainting and other relevant information. Be prepared to brief first responders when they arrive.

Remember, all LIM College students have medical insurance and no student is transported to the hospital alone. A teacher or administrator will accompany the student to the hospital and remain with her/him until they are properly relieved by another member of the College or a family member or guardian.

What is the proper follow-up to a fainting episode?

Although typically not concerning, fainting can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition. It is best to let your doctor know if you have fainted.

Let’s defy the odds and work together to prevent fainting at LIM College now and in the future.