One who faints, falls, unless held up, as when standing or sitting up in a crowded place. But not every fall is fainting. It may be an epileptic fit; but then the patient is convulsed; that is, his limbs, and perhaps the muscles of his face, jerk. There is a modified form of epileptic attack, not common, in which the sufferer lies still; in that, however, the pulse is not so weak as in syncope or fainting.
One attacked with apoplexy falls ; but his flushed (or at least not pale) face, warm or hot head, slow and full pulse, and slow, snoring breathing, make the case clear. An intoxicated person, or one stupefied with opium, may be found lying unconscious. The odor of liquor in the former, ana the contracted pupils of the eyes of the latter, usually serve for distinctions. (Odor of liquor on the breath, however, does not prove that the person may not have apoplexy as well as intoxication.)
In a faint, the face is pale, the forehead cool or cold, the pulse absent or extremely weak, the breathing noiseless and feeble. Once in a while we meet with mixed attacks; almost always in those whose hearts have undergone some degenerative change ; in which there is a partial stupor,' perhaps with snoring breathing, along with the other signs of fainting. Such an attack differs from apoplexy in that it soon passes off, and leaves no palsy after it. But such spells are comparatively rare.
Fainting is most common in young women ; next so, in weakly old people of either sex. In these last it is most dangerous, and may in them easily end in death. What happens in a faint is this ; the heart gives out, and sends no fresh blood to the brain ; the brain fails, therefore, to maintain consciousness, and the person falls. This fall is advantageous, because it causes more blood to flow to the brain, and, consciousness being renewed, the heart also having less laborious work when the body is level, ill starts again. A crowded and close room is a frequent place for fainting. Fright, the sight of blood, and other mental causes, as well as fatigue, may produce it, in those liable to it. Some persons never faint, through a long lifetime; others do so often, even on very small occasions.
What to do for fainting? Lay the person down at once. Get the crowd, if there be one, to move away. Open the windows, or carry the unconscious patient (horizon-1 tally) out into the fresh air. Sprinkle cold water on the face; loosen everything about the neck and chest; hold smelling-salts, for a moment at a time, under the nostrils. An ordinary syncopal attack will thus soon pass away.