Top 10 reasons your child fainted or feels dizzy

Although it can be unsettling if your child faints or feels dizzy, it usually is not due to a serious underlying heart condition.

Although it can be unsettling if your child feels dizzy or faints (also called syncope), it is usually not due to a serious underlying heart condition.

“Although feeling really dizzy or fainting certainly can be uncomfortable, usually it can be treated with some self-awareness, behavioral changes and attention to nutrition and hydration,” said Christopher L. Johnsrude, M.D., M.S., director of the pediatric and adult congenital heart disease arrhythmia service for Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. “However, in rare circumstances, syncope actually may be due to a more serious underlying condition.”

Dr. Johnsrude is also an associate professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

Top 10 causes of fainting or feeling dizzy

Fainting often results from a sudden drop in blood pressure, and this may be triggered by physical, emotional and/or other medical conditions.

Here are 10 circumstances that may cause someone to feel dizzy or faint:
1) Dehydration
2) Overheating
3) Standing for a long time
4) Getting up too fast after sitting or lying down
5) Emotional distress (anxiety, pain, phobias, etc.)
6) Hyperventilating/rapid breathing
7) Anemia
8) Low blood sugar
9) Vertigo
10) Underlying heart or other medical conditions

Norton Children’s Heart Institute

Our team of pediatric cardiologists treats children with all types of heart conditions, from before birth through adulthood.

Your child fainted … now what?

If your child has fainted, you should notify the pediatrician so they can begin to evaluate for any serious underlying conditions. Take note of what your child experienced before, during and after the fainting episode, and share these details with your provider.

Whereas the underlying cause for fainting in most children usually can be determined during a clinic visit noting the precise details of the episode(s), personal and family medical history, and physical examination, sometimes testing is needed to help sort out whether there might be an underlying heart or medical condition. These tests may include an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, Holter or event monitor, treadmill stress test, electroencephalogram, brain MRI scan, or blood and urine lab work.

If the underlying issue is due to a type of so-called “simple faint,” then ensuring adequate hydration, paying attention to warning signs and avoiding individualized triggers may be all that is necessary. Some children benefit from a medication. Fortunately, most eventually will outgrow this condition.

Signs of more serious conditions include:

  • An existing cardiac, neurological or other significant medical condition
  • Fainting during active play or sports
  • Fainting all of a sudden, without any warning
  • Fainting accompanied by chest pain, difficulty breathing or palpitations
  • Fainting followed by bodily injury, seizure, tongue-biting or urinary incontinence
  • Fainting in young children
  • Finding abnormal heartbeats or cardiac murmur on exam

Children with any of these findings should be referred for subspecialty consultation and care.