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What Is Presyncope?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Presyncope is a medical term used to describe a feeling of dizziness or faintness that does not actually lead to fainting. Often, muscle weakness or mild disorientation accompanies these sensations. Some of the potential causes for presyncope include a sudden drop in blood pressure, inner ear disorders, or the use of certain medications. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the dizziness and may require a series of medical tests in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Any specific questions or concerns about this condition in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A variety of symptoms may occur when a person experiences presyncope. Nausea, unsteadiness, and paleness of the skin may develop along with muscle weakness and a lightheaded feeling. A person may feel like fainting is imminent and sense a need to lie down. Perceived changes in body temperature or profuse sweating may develop as well.

In many cases, presyncope is caused by an interruption in proper communication between the heart and the nervous system. If this becomes a persistent problem, a doctor may recommend performing tests to make sure the heart is functioning as it should. Sudden drops in blood pressure levels may cause dizziness, and those who are being treated for high blood pressure may need to have the medication dosages reevaluated by the supervising physician.

Patients who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may experience this condition just before a panic attack begins. In these cases, the body's natural fight or flight response may be at least partially responsible for the lightheaded sensations. Prescription medications or psychological counseling may help to relieve stress and anxiety for those with this type of medical history.

Inner ear problems can sometimes cause recurring episodes of presyncope. When this is thought to be the cause, a doctor may perform tests to determine if the fluid levels in the inner ear are normal or if an ear infection is present. A condition known as Meniere's disease can cause dizziness as well as gradual hearing loss.

Some medications list dizziness as one of the possible side effects and may be the cause for some cases of presyncope. Narcotic pain medications as well as those used to treat seizure disorders or depression are among the most commonly used medications carrying this potential side effect. Any persistent or recurring bouts of dizziness should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation.

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Discussion Comments
By anon333104 — On May 03, 2013

Axona made me nauseous, shaky and extremely nervous and constipated. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. Besides, it consists mainly of coconut oil, soy and milk products. Coconut oil, the kind in health food aisles, is just as effective in boosting memory, according to some folks writing on other websites about Axona. Look online and read all the horrible side effects. I'm throwing mine out!

By feasting — On Dec 31, 2012

I don't think I've ever had an inner ear infection, but I've heard that it's really hard to maintain your balance and there is a lot of dizziness involved. I've had water trapped in my ears for days before, but this never caused the presyncope that my friends with inner ear infections complained of having.

By Oceana — On Dec 30, 2012

@Perdido – I never feel queasy when I experience presyncope before and during a panic attack. I do have trouble catching my breath, and I feel as if I'm falling from a great height, though I've never actually fallen or fainted.

For me, it's a sense of sudden doom. The panic attack comes out of nowhere, when I haven't even been thinking about or doing anything stressful.

My head and hands feel all tingly and numb, and I have to put my head between my legs and breathe slowly and deeply. I lose a sense of place, and I have to pretend I'm somewhere comforting.

Through the years, I've learned that the best way to deal with presyncope is to get angry at it. If you focus your anger on it, then there is no room for anxiety and fear to take over, and you can keep the panic attack from occurring.

By Perdido — On Dec 30, 2012

What does having a panic attack feel like? Does the dizziness that comes with it usually make you nauseated, or does it just feel like you are about to faint?

By kylee07drg — On Dec 29, 2012

Presyncope sounds like what I experience before vomiting. In the moments leading up to it, my muscles in my arms and legs become so weak that they feel fatigued, and I have to sit down.

I feel very hot, too. I usually have to hold a cold, damp rag to my face.

It's one of the worst feelings I've ever had. When I feel this way, vomiting is usually inevitable. However, sometimes sucking on a peppermint candy to relieve the nausea has worked, but not if I'm suffering from the stomach virus or food poisoning.

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