Pediatric Cardiologist located in Old Bridge, NJ
Syncope (fainting) in pediatrics can be quite common. Fortunately, most of these episodes are due to an underlying benign and non-cardiac cause. However, there are a few cardiac causes to be aware of that may be reason for further evaluation. If your child has had fainting spells, expert pediatric cardiologist Laura Boulos, DO, at iHeart Pediatrics in Old Bridge, New Jersey, can help. Find out more by calling iHeart Pediatrics or book an appointment online today.
Syncope Q & A
What is syncope?
Syncope is the medical term for fainting, which is often a common complaint in pediatrics, particularly during adolescence.
Your child may also experience pre-syncope, which is the feeling of being about to faint. They may say they feel dizzy or that the room is spinning immediately prior to an episode or may faint without warning.
The root cause of syncope is a temporary lack of oxygen-laden blood getting to your child's brain, which can happen for numerous reasons.
What causes syncope?
There are multiple reasons for syncope in children including cardiac and non-cardiac etiologies.
Most episodes of syncope are due to a benign cause, such as dehydration, an inner ear disorder, or breath-holding in young children. Other non-cardiac causes include:
- Head injuries
- Low blood sugar
In some cases, syncope is a symptom of a heart problem.
What heart problems might cause syncope?
Some of the heart-related causes for syncope in children include:
Benign vasovagal syncope is the most common form of heart-related syncope. It's due to stimulation of the vagus nerve in response to triggers like pain and emotional stress. The vagus nerve slows your child's heart rate and dilates their blood vessels, temporarily depriving the brain of oxygen.
Orthostatic hypotension is a fall in blood pressure that often occurs after a child has been standing for prolonged periods or suddenly changes position from sitting to standing. The cause is blood pooling in their legs, and temporarily less blood return to the brain.
An irregular or rapid heart rate (arrhythmia) can trigger syncope, as the ventricles in the heart don’t have enough time to fill with blood.
Myocarditis is inflammation of your child's heart muscle that can weaken the heart and leave it unable to pump properly.
Heart defects that obstruct blood flow from the heart are a much rarer cause of syncope.
How is syncope diagnosed and treated?
The diagnosis can often be made based on history and physical exam alone. If the cause of syncope isn't clear, your child may need to undergo some diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram.
Often syncope is treatable with simple measures such as increased fluid and salt intake, and rarely is medication recommended. If your child's syncope is due to a heart condition that requires treatment, Dr. Boulos discusses the options with you in detail.
If your child has been experiencing frequent episodes of syncope, call iHeart Pediatrics to schedule a consultation with Dr. Boulos or book an appointment online today.