Syncope, or fainting, is the temporary loss of consciousness and tone in the body that results from a temporarily inadequate blood supply to the brain. Insufficient blood flow to the brain may be due to a decreased amount of blood leaving the heart or to an increased pooling of blood in the rest of the body. This can occur after sudden changes in body position (lying down to standing or sitting to standing). Syncope can also be associated with pain, straining while going to the bathroom, or even with hair brushing.

Syncope is extremely common in children, particularly in teenagers. It’s one of the most common reasons for referral to a pediatric cardiologist or neurologist. Syncope typically doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious heart condition, but it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if your child experiences a fainting episode.

Symptoms of syncope

Commonly, there are symptoms that precede a fainting spell, including the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • A sense of “tunnel vision”
  • “Seeing spots”
  • Changes in hearing

Occasionally, a child may feel the sensation of the heart beating harder, slower, or faster than usual. Syncope that occurs during exercise shouldn’t be considered normal and should be promptly evaluated.

Baby and stethoscope

Children's Heart Health

Information for parents of children with pediatric heart conditions. Read more about conditions, tests, and treatments for congenital heart disease.