Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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Re: My past with VV

From: S.W.


VV is definitely a frustrating condition to have. You never really know when it's going to happen, which often leads to anxiety, which often fuels the triggers for an episode. It's hard to relax when you don't know if you'll crack your head wide open later today because you passed out.

I've had VV my entire life, but never got a diagnosis until about a year ago, in my mid-30's. I had hit my head (unrelated to VV) and got a nasty concussion. It was bad enough to make me drop out of my classes (first time back to college in 15 years). I couldn't focus or concentrate anymore. During the diagnostic tests for the ocncussion, my doctor became concerned about my normally low blood pressure. He told me about VV and it was like a light bulb exploded in my brain. Suddenly, it all made sense. Once I knew what it was and why it was happening, it was easy to learn my triggers and find ways to cope.

For me, heat is a huge problem. If I get even slightly overheated, I turn red, start sweating and pass out. Dehydration is another trigger. Extreme pain has caused me to pass out before. I had always been told that it was just the way I was put together, or that I was "sensitive". Well, I am, but not in the way they meant it. Now everyone knows that I can't get too hot and I drink a lot of water. Not a big deal most of the time. Oh, and if you don't like "plain" water, try Propel. It's flavored water made by Gatorade with B vitamins. I love the stuff.

You'll learn to listen to the warning signs...whatever you feel when you start to pass out. Hot flash, cold sweat, roaring sound in your ears, vision fades, body feels like lead, etc. At the very first sign, get down as low as you can. This helps keep the blood in your head and also reduces the risk of serious injury if you DO pass out. Flex your legs as you squat to get your blood flowing (it gets pooled in your legs and your brain doesn't get enough). Concentrate on breathing, almost like Lamaze breathing. Once you learn how to control your reactions a little more, you might not be so nervous about being out of control.

There are medications you can try if your VV affects your life seriously enough, and if you think they are worth the risk. Talk to your parents and your doctor about your options. Good luck!

This web site is not a substitute for a thorough medical evaluation and diagnosis of your vaso-vagal type symptoms.  Medical treatment and diagnosis is the only acceptable initial response to these serious symptoms since they might present from any number of life threatening and treatable illnesses. It is for you and your physician to rule out more serious illnesses; Please don't use this online forum as an alternative to getting responsible medical attention and being under the care of a physician for the duration of any unknown, suspected or dangerous vaso-vagal syndrome symptoms.
Last changed: June 22, 2007