Fainting on Stage

Hey kids…It’s less than two weeks until our concert with Red River. So let’s talk about fainting.

What it typically looks like:

  • Dizzy, light-headed
  • Pale and sweaty
  • Increased heart rate or nervousness
  • Tunnel vision or a feeling of vision clouding over
  • Nauseousness
  • Briefly unconscious
  • Quick recovery

How to prevent it:

  • Move! Move your feet, flex leg muscles, etc. Fainting is caused by blood pooling below you heart, thus not getting to your brain, and standing perfectly still for about 30 minutes will likely cause you to faint. So move.
    • The whole “don’t lock you knees”-thing is a bit misleading…flexing your leg muscles (calves, thighs, butt) actually helps to pump blood back up to your heart. What we really mean when we say “don’t lock your knees”  is “don’t stand perfectly still.”
  • Drink a glass of water about 20-30 minutes before going on stage. You achieve maximum hydration about 30 minutes after drinking, and that increases your blood volume a little, which helps prevent fainting.
  • If you are prone to lightheadedness, eat a high sodium dinner (Chinese, pizza, spaghetti with red sauce) the night before the performance. This also increases the amount of water in your blood stream (i.e. you retain water), and makes it less likely you will pass out.
  • Make sure your clothes aren’t binding, especially around the waist and neck.
  • Eat before the concert.

If you feel lightheaded:

  • SIT DOWN. Immediately. Do not walk off stage as you could collapse while walking and that would be bad.
  • Get your head a low as possible (between your knees, lie down).
  • Don’t fight it…just sit down.

If someone faints:

  • Catch them!
  • Do not panic. Fainting sucks, but it’s not a big deal if the fainter lands safely.
  • Put their head as low as possible. The best position is lying on their back with legs elevated above head. Obviously this is not always possible on stage, but the lower the better.
  • Wait for the fainter to be conscious and steady before walking them off stage.
  • Someone who faints can vomit, have small muscle twitches, be disoriented, have a headache, etc., all of which is normal.
  • Fainting can resemble a seizure, but the recovery time is often quicker with regular fainting. It can be hard to tell the difference, so if you have any concerns, you should see a doctor.

Who is most likely to faint (although it can happen to anyone):

  • Women ages 18-22 (every girl in Concert Choir, basically).
  • Men over 65.

You should see a doctor if:

  • You have another underlying cardiovascular condition.
  • You faint multiple times.
  • Recovery takes a long time, or you are unconscious for an extended period of time.

My favorite fainting video. She was fine right after this was filmed, and apparently they re-shot the segment. Don’t let this be you!



I can’t believe they laughed…

[Update: References 1) Kaufmann HH, Wieling W, eds.  Management of reflex syncope: A clinically guided approach. Clinical Autonomic Research.  October 2004;14(1):1-90. 2) Conversation with Wieling, W. in March, 2005.]


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