Syncope (Fainting) or Blackouts
Often due to a number of different causes, syncope, or “fainting,” can be common and frequently reoccurring. However, once the cause is identified, it is often no longer an issue. In these cases one may go to stand up from a seated position and suddenly see nothing but black, feel lightheaded, physically weak, and then either will faint, or will recognize the symptoms and immediately sit down to avoid a fainting spell.
Blood Pressure Medications
Medications for high blood pressure can cause very low blood pressure in people with CSS.
This is because with a very narrow window for homeostasis, high blood pressure medications can empty the body of to fluids, mineral, and vitamins. If you are experiencing fainting spells, or feeling like you are about to faint, talk to your doctor about reducing your medication dosage, or how often you take the medication. For example, I cannot take hydrochlorothiazide everyday due to fainting spells and dizziness, but I can take it every three days or so.
There are a number of medications and supplements that have the side effect of lowering blood pressure. One example is Neurontin/Gabapentin. Supplements can include Omega-3 supplements, olive oil supplements, and grape seed extract. I recommend searching for side effects for all medications and supplements you are taking (vitamin and minerals – even multivitamins), to identify and remove the ones that lower blood pressure if fainting spells are something you are currently experiencing.
Lack of Electrolytes & Vitamins – Dehydration
If you are not consuming enough water and eating a healthy diet, you may be lacking adequate food and electrolytes. This may also be the case after having the flu, or being outside in the heat or exercising in the heat, as loss of fluids through sweating can also cause fainting spells. You can replenish your fluid requirement simply by drinking more water.
However, to replenish your electrolytes and vitamins you will need to each foods rich in them, or grab a Gatorade or Glacéau Smartwater. I recommend Smartwater for electrolytes, as it does not have all the extra calories and sugars.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables daily should replenish most of what you’re lacking, but you need to identify why you are lacking if a less than healthy diet is not the culprit.
Alcohol consumption without adequately replenishing your fluids can also lead to fainting. If you have a glass or two of wine in the evening, make sure to couple it with a glass or two of water to avoid fainting.
Stomach Irritation Due to ibuprofen
If you are taking medications that can negatively impact your stomach, like a lot of Ibuprofen for a long period of time, you may experience fainting spells after eating some foods. In this case, you will need to stop taking Ibuprofen until your stomach recovers. Stick to organic foods, or whatever foods you can find that do not irritate your stomach for as long as it takes for the fainting spells, or simply feeling like you may faint, passes. Drink only filtered water during this period to avoid additional stomach irritation. I recommend always using the PUR MineralClear water filter to avoid stomach irritation in general.
I once had to live off Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese for 3 months until my stomach could handle other foods. Stick to healthy foods at first, foods that you make from scratch from whole foods (the ingredient list has one item). Fast food and junk food with yield the worse side effects ranging from fainting, to difficulty breaking, total body weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, etc. For those with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, some junk food, fast food, or fruits and vegetables with a lot of pesticides may trigger these symptoms in you even if your stomach is perfectly fine. So, pay close attention to what you eat, keep a food journal or all your foods and beverages, and mark down anytime you have any of these side effects in order to find a pattern distinct enough to identify the culprits.
Being out in the hot sun, or just out in the heat in general can cause blood pressure drops, dehydration, and substantially increase chronic fatigue to exhaustion and even delirium. This means being outside in the heat, even for a little while can result in a wide range of symptoms for people with CSS.
These include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, lightheadedness, stomach pains, fainting, increased exhaustion and muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, inability to think clearly, and loss of emotional control.
To avoid this, keep well hydrated, stay out of direct sunlight, and allow yourself time to go indoors when you feel weak or faint. I first had issues with heat at age 9, and by age 15 I couldn’t be out in the heat during the summer at all unless in well shaded areas.
Excessive heat mixed with eating and drinking certain foods (e.g. plant and animal milks, greasy foods) can also lead to irritable bowel episodes due to an exaggerated laxative effect, where increased heat means increased gas and bloating that can lead to painful abdominal distress. It can also cause chest pains that may feel like you are having a heart attack. While the pain is merely caused by gas and cramping, the effects can be psychologically traumatizing.
If this happens to you, put a fan on yourself, set your air-conditioner lower, drink plenty of ice cold water, and apply a cold compress to your abdomen to assist in reducing gas pressure – think of how a balloon expands in the heat, but shrinks in the cold. This will not only reduce gas, but prevent your body from increasing in temperature in reaction to the stress associated with this experience.
Being exposed to strong smells can also lead to fainting. The most common smells include fumes and fragrances. These may include perfumes, colognes, car exhaust or gasoline, or the cleaning aisle at the grocery store. Cigarette smoke and incense also lead to difficulty breathing, which can lead to fainting.
I recommend always keeping a paper medical mask on your person to use in case of emergencies. While these will not completely remove the fume, it will allow you some additional time to get away from it. Fragrances such as flower extracts themselves may not cause fainting, but can lead to headaches and dizziness. Because of this, avoiding shampoos and detergents with fragrances is recommended. However, avoiding all fumes and fragrances at home will reduce your tolerance, be it already small, to fumes and fragrances outside of the home.
Because of this, I recommend a small amount of exposure to fumes and fragrances in limited amounts if you spend a great deal of your time at home (e.g. a little perfume in the bathroom – a room you frequent, but are not in for long periods of time).
Extreme Pain & Distress (Whiteouts)
When in extreme pain, people with CSS may experience whiteouts. Whiteouts can also occur during moments of heightened stress, and can occur right before a blackout (fainting). In this case, everything goes white, but you are still conscious. These are experiences that should not occur, as they are signs that you are trying to doing things well outside of your limitations. Know your limits, and don’t let anyone else force you to do things that lead to such high levels of stress or pain.