Syncope and seizures can both cause a loss of consciousness. However, seizures often involve convulsions, which are unusual in syncope or fainting.
Seizures and syncope share similar symptoms and can both have serious causes. However, around
Anyone who experiences syncope or seizure needs to consult a doctor.
This article compares syncope and seizures. It provides an overview of the conditions and their causes and symptoms. It also outlines how to respond to seizures and syncope and how doctors diagnose them.
|defining symptom is loss of consciousness||common symptoms include convulsions|
|less likely to cause tongue biting||more likely to cause tongue biting|
|less likely to show an atypical electroencephalogram (EEG) reading||more likely to show a specific atypical EEG reading|
|often arises due to a drop in blood pressure||can arise from different conditions that alter typical brain activity, including epilepsy|
|could indicate reduced blood flow in the brain||could indicate stroke, cancer, or brain infections|
|does not arise from atypical brain activity||does arise from atypical brain activity|
|may not require urgent medical attention if there are no lasting symptoms||often requires urgent medical attention|
There are many possible causes of syncope, ranging from harmless to life threatening. These conditions include:
- cardiac arrhythmias, which involve an irregular heartbeat
- issues with blood flow to the back of the brain
- a fall in blood pressure
Common faints can also occur in people with no underlying health problems.
Several symptoms can
What to do if someone faints
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) provides guidance on what to do if someone faints.
If an individual believes they experienced fainting, they need to discuss it with a doctor. A doctor will ask questions about the person’s symptoms before the episode, which will help them determine the cause.
If an individual sees someone faint, they need to try to remain calm before waiting for the person to wake up. The individual needs to lay them on their back, with their legs raised if possible. However, it is better to lay a pregnant person on their side.
An individual needs to contact the emergency services if someone passes out and any of the following occurs:
- they do not wake after 1 minute
- they are not breathing
- they find it hard to move or speak
- they have chest pain or heart palpitations
- they have injured themselves
- they have fainted while exercising or lying down
An individual should also contact the emergency services if the person is shaking or jerking.
What is convulsive syncope?
According to an older article, convulsive syncope is not a form of seizure. Rather, convulsive syncope is when someone’s muscles briefly shake or jerk while the individual is unconscious. This can occur when there is reduced blood flow to the brain.
A convulsive syncope is not the same as a syncope-induced seizure. These are “anoxic-epileptic” seizures.
According to a
There are many possible causes of seizures. When a seizure has a cause, doctors call it “provoked.” Causes of a provoked seizure include:
- electrolyte imbalances
- withdrawal from some drugs
- brain infections
- brain injury
- brain tumors
- sleep deprivation
If someone experiences two or more unprovoked seizures, doctors may diagnose epilepsy. Epilepsy may arise from a genetic susceptibility or damage to the brain.
Seizures can cause various symptoms, and a loss of consciousness and convulsions are
Seizures can cause various symptoms, including a loss of consciousness and convulsions. For some seizure types, convulsions usually start with stiffening muscles. The convulsions then enter a phase of rhythmic movement.
An individual may also:
- cry out or make a noise when the seizure starts
- bite their tongue
- have urinary incontinence
Some people report a strange feeling before the seizure. Doctors sometimes call this an “aura.”
What to do
The Epilepsy Foundation gives advice for seizure first aid. It is important to call the emergency services when:
- it is a person’s first seizure
- repeated seizures happen one after another
- the person appears to be choking or having difficulty breathing
- the seizure happens in water
- it lasts more than 5 minutes
- the person is injured
According to a
Doctors may or may not be able to gather information about an individual’s symptoms and behavior before the episode — either from the individual or people nearby at the time. However, syncope can cause similar symptoms to a seizure, such as convulsions and tongue-biting. So, an overview of symptoms is not always enough to make a diagnosis.
In the future, testing for levels of certain chemicals may also help with diagnosis. A small
- neuron-specific enolase
- creatine phosphokinase
- serum lactate dehydrogenase
The study authors suggest that testing for these biomarkers may be useful to confirm a seizure diagnosis.
Anyone who notices someone having a seizure or fainting needs to contact emergency services. Aside from possible serious causes, individuals can hurt themselves when falling and require medical attention.
An individual who has experienced one or more seizures or episodes of passing out needs to seek a doctor’s advice.
Syncope is a temporary loss of consciousness and inability to hold oneself upright. The causes of syncope include cardiac arrhythmias, reduced blood flow to the back of the brain, and low blood pressure. The latter can arise from fatigue, stress, or being in a crowded place.
Seizures involve uncontrolled and atypical brain activity. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes repeated seizures. Doctors diagnose epilepsy when a person experiences two or more seizures.
Seizures can have many causes, such as electrolyte imbalances, drug withdrawal, and fever. Seizures can also be due to life threatening conditions, including brain infections, brain injury, and stroke.
People who experience syncope or a seizure can discuss the episode with a doctor who will try to determine the cause.