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Triggers, Warning Signs and Side-Effects

It is important that all teachers, staff and carers familiarise themselves with the triggers, warning signs and side-effects of an individual’s condition. If you know what to expect, you will be better able to manage an episode if it occurs. Each case is different- not everyone will experience these responses.


The stimuli that may cause a syncopal episode are dependent upon the individual’s condition and will vary from case to case.

Common Triggers:

  • Puberty
  • Standing for a long time
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Worry
  • Extreme change in temperature
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Pain
  • Shock/fright

Warning Signs

(not everyone experiences these but for those who do, it is important that you are able to recognise them):

Can include:

  • Light headedness
  • Raised temperature
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Change in skin pallor- may go very pale
  • Blurred vision
  • Low concentration
  • Confusion
  • Detachment

Side/after effects:

Syncope can have a great impact on the daily life of on a person with syncope. It is important that staff, teachers and carers are fully aware of any possible side effects of a syncopal episode so that necessary support can be made available, and effects are understood as being caused by an episode and not as a result of anything else.

  • Tiredness
  • Low concentration
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling of Vulnerability

Preventing an Episode

Some individuals are able to recognise their warning signs and can tell when they are about to blackout.

If episodes are triggered in an individual by shock or pain, pre-warning a child of possible dangers or shocks before they partake in an activity could, in some instances, prevent a full blown episode from occurring.

If the individual or a witness is able to recognise that an attack is approaching the individual should:

  • Sit, squat or lie down immediately
  • Clench and relax calf muscles to increase blood pressure

If any of the warning signs are identified in time, ensure that all potentially hazardous objects are removed from the immediate area to minimise injury.

Long term prevention:

  • Keep well hydrated- drink 1 ½ - 2 litres of water a day
  • Eat regular meals
  • Increase salt intake (only following discussion with doctor)

Get in touch for more help and information

+44 (0) 1789 867


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