Fainting in children – when is it serious?

Know when it could be a sign of a heart condition

Fainting, or passing out, is a brief or sudden loss of consciousness. It can happen quickly and resolve quickly. Many older children and teenagers faint during childhood. While fainting in children may not be serious, it might be a sign that your child should see a heart doctor (cardiologist).

Know what to look for so you can get the help your child may need

What can cause fainting in children?

  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar
  • Anemia
  • Stressor straining
  • Standing for a longtime
  • Suddenposition changes
  • Intensepain

Signs someone may faint

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vision changes or tunnel vision
  • Turning pale

What to do if your child faints

Check that the child is breathing normally and did not hit his or her head. If he or she isn’t breathing or is gasping for breath, call 911 and start CPR. Your child should be seen right away at an emergency department if they fainted during activity or if they are badly hurt. If your child seems OK after fainting, call your pediatrician. The doctor’s office will let you know if your child needs immediate care or if treatment can wait a few days.

Need a pediatrician?

Norton Children’s Medical Group has locations throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana.

When fainting in children might be serious

While fainting usually is nothing serious and can be easily treated, sometimes it can be a symptom of a heart condition.

Your child should be seen by a pediatric cardiologist if:

  • He or she is younger than 8 years old
  • Fainting happens while playing sports, running or being active
  • Fainting happens after being startled by a loud noise or while stressed
  • Fainting happens without any symptoms before it happens
  • Child has a family history of heart conditions: congenital heart disease, arrhythmia (heart beats too fast or too slow) or cardiomyopathy (disease that causes the heart to become too big, thick or stiff)

Tricia N. Brown, APRN, is a nurse practitioner with UofL Physicians – Pediatric Cardiology and Norton Children’s Heart Institute Pediatric Advanced Heart Failure Program.