Falls and Syncope Service

Symptoms and treatment

DizzinessShow [+]Hide [-]

Dizziness can cover a range of feelings (woozy, lightheaded, sensation of spinning or turning, tunnel vision, unsteadiness, about to black out, off balance, disconnected, out of body), can be the result of a variety of factors such as;


  • Presyncope
  • Syncope
  • Anxiety
  • balance disorders
  • insufficients water intake
  • existing and / or undiagnosed medical conditions
  • external conditions such as heat
  • certain medications and or combinations of medications.


Severe attacks of dizziness can lead to falls, and injuries resulting from these falls.

There are in some circumstances things you can do to alleviate a dizzy episode, but treatment for recurrent dizziness is dependant on cause, which must be diagnosed by a medical professional.

Drop AttacksShow [+]Hide [-]

A Drop Attack is a sudden fall from standing position or from walking followed by a very swift recovery, usually no more than a few seconds or minutes.  There are a number of causes of drop attacks, and as it mostly affects elderly people, the results of such falls can be bruising, soft tissue damage, and even fractures.  Below are some causes of drop attacks:


  • Existing or undiagnosed medical conditions
  • Stress / Anxiety
  • Postural Instability
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Syncope


Due to the possibility of underlying factors, anyone suffering from suspected drop attacks should seek advice from a medical professional.

FallsShow [+]Hide [-]

Falls can vary hugely in their causes and outcomes; we all fall at some point in our lives, but if the fall is one of the following it should be investigated by a medical professional:


  • if the person has fallen several times, particularly if the falls have been similar
  • if other symptoms such as dizziness, unsteadiness, vertigo and loss of consciousness are also occurring, or if the patient also suffers from the above
  • if the person that fell cannot remember falling
  • if there is no obvious cause for the fall
  • if the person has problems with balance and / or gait (pattern of walking)
  • if the person is aged over 55 years old
  • if the fall has caused significant injury such as fracture, particularly if the fall cannot be explained


Stumbles, or "near-falls" that satisfy one or more of the above should also be investigated.


There are many reasons behind falls, including but not exclusively;


  • hazards around the home and other such environments
  • sensory (vision, hearing etc) degeneration
  • Dizziness, Vertigo, Presyncope, Syncope
  • balance problems
  • gait problems
  • ill fitting footwear
  • muscle weakness and / or degeneration
  • existing and / or undiagnosed medical conditions
  • simple slip or trip


In many cases, particularly in older people, the injuries that occur from falling can often be quite serious, so advice from a medical professional, and if necessary a referral to the Falls and Syncope Service is recommended.

PresyncopeShow [+]Hide [-]

Presyncope occurs when a person almost but doesn't actually lose consciousness, due to reduced flow of oxygenated blood to the brain.


Symptoms of a presyncopal episode can include:


  • Dizziness, Lightheadedness, or Vertigo
  • blurry or narrowed vision (Tunnel Vision)
  • nausea (feeling sick) and / or vomiting (being sick)
  • headache
  • sweating
  • heart palpitations (faster, heavier, or irregular heartbeat felt by the person)
  • stomach ache or general abdominal discomfort
  • confusion or disorientation
  • slurred speech


Because the person doesn't lose consciousness the likelihood of injuring themselves is reduced but there is still a risk of falling.  If the person has experienced an episode before, they can often recognise the onset, and take action to prevent the episode.


As with syncope, presyncope can have many causes and contributing factors, if you do experience an episode of presyncope you must seek advice from your doctor.

SyncopeShow [+]Hide [-]

Syncope is when a person loses consciousness (faints) as the result of reduced oxygenated blood flow to the brain.


There are sometimes warning signs (prodromes) which can occur from between seconds to nearly an hour before the person faints, including:


  • Lightheadedness (Presyncope)
  • buzzing or ringing in the ears
  • a feeling of disorientation, fading vision or "fading out"
  • feeling hot
  • feeling sick


If the blood flow to the brain is reduced slowly these warning signs can occur for a while before fainting, but they may only occur for a few seconds before fainting if the blood flow is reduced suddenly, and sometimes there are no warning signs at all.


Syncope can happen to people of all ages and there are a variety of causes and contributing factors, including:


  • stress
  • a particular environment
  • insufficient water intake
  • existing and / or undiagnosed medical conditions
  • specific movements
  • certain medications and / or combinations of medications


When a person faints they often injure themselves further as a result of falling, often without trying to protect themselves from injury, and these injuries can often cause the person more health difficulties than the Syncope itself.


Whilst an episode of Syncope can be frightening to the person experiencing it and their families who often witness it, the majority of causes for syncope are easily identified and treated, however advice must be sought from a medical professional to establish a diagnosis.

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