Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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Does this sound like vaso-vagal?

From: KLB
Date: 5/11/00
Time: 3:18:40 PM
Remote Name:



I had a lower GI procedure several days ago and had a terribly frightening experience during it. It was very painful when they put the barium into my large intestine and I began to get sweaty and hyperventilate. When they tilted the table up to take the xrays, I lost my vision for several minutes, could not speak, wanted to vomit, and my lower arms and legs went numb and tingly and clenched into position as they buckled underneath me and the nurse and doctor had to hold me upright. I could not move or bend them. I could hear the doctor and nurse talking to me the entire time and trying to calm me down, but it was no use. They put the table back down, let me calm down- it took 45 minutes for the muscle spasms in my arms and legs to go away. Then they resumed the exam. It happened again when they tilted the table up, but not as bad as the first time.

The nurse said it was a vaso vagal reaction.

As I look back I realize that I have had this in the past, but not as severe. At the GYN, I hyperventilate and get dizzy and nauseous during pelvic exams. The doctor assumes I have been molested and tries to get me to go to a psych. every time. But I have not been molested.

I got laser eye surgery a few years ago, and the same thing. They had to give me several ativan to calm me down, and my husband ended up carrying me out of the office over his shoulder as I was so knocked out from the drugs they gave me.

I gave blood once when I was 16 and I passed out from it. THe sight of blood does not bother me, but the action of having it taken from my body is what it is.

When I have blood drawn, I always lie down.. but several months ago I had food poisoning and was laying in a hospital bed when the nurse tried to give me an IV. I wasn't even watching the procedure and I had the same type of feelings while laying down, as I did during the lower GI procedure. I thought I would vomit, hyperventilated, got very upset and told her to leave me alone. I curled up into a fetal position for about an hour before I let her try to give me the IV again. It was terrible. She thought I was nuts!

Do these types of things sound like a vaso vagal response? Should I talk to my doctor and try to get help, or is it normal to have these reactons to medical procedures? I am not afraid of these procedures- I do not have anxiety leading up to them, or fears about them. Once I am in the procedure and getting it done to me, it is as if my body takes over and I have no control over what is happening to me. I have thought maybe it was all in my head, but now I think maybe it isn't.

I take 20 mg. of Celexa (an antidepressant) every day for mild depression and stress (my job is very stressful right now). I do have a history of depression, but right now it is very stable.

I also have a history of digestive problems- like IBS, but have never had one of these episodes in relation to a bowel movement. I was getting the lower GI test to see if there are any problems with my intestine.

I had an ultrasound last week and was fine in that procedure- no problems at all.

What happened a few days ago was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced. I thought I was going to die.

Please help!

My email address is



Re: General

From: Rog I.


I just had a vaso vegal episode. This has been with me from the time I was 12 years old. The episode had been very infrequent when I was young. I am 55 now and from my early forties the episode has been more on the order of once a year. I have been to the emergency center umpteen number of times and the doctors did every thing possible to find out what was bothering me from ecg, halter, cardiologist, neuro specialist and finally could come to the agreement it was due to vaso vegal syndrome. They have given an ammonia vial to my wife to revive me when I faint. I usually can sense when the episode starts and I lie down wherever I am, and try to raise my legs using the nearest object. I have had one episode once when I was driving in a commuter traffic and luckily nothing happened except for the totalling the car on the side wall of the median. I walked out with no injury and did not even go to the emergency room.

The episode almost l always starts with an abdominal distress of some kind and I can sense an onset of diarrhea which usually relieves itself if I lie down and elevate my legs.

I am of the opinion, that the onset of vasovegal episode is due to loss of blood volume due to the flooding of lower intestine with electrolyte. It immediately reduces the blood pressure and the body goes on a safe mode where only vital heart muscles are supplied with minimum blood other parts are starved leading to reduction of blood flow to the head. The fainting follows. Since the blood volume goes down but the total sugar remains the blood glucose level jumps.

I had an interesting verification today. I was monitoring my blood pressure and sugar level like I always do every Saturday morning. I entered the values and decided to follow my blood sugar throughout the day since I wanted to start my exercise program on the tread mill that I had given up a year ago another start. I did 300 cal worth of exercise and checked my blood sugar level and it was 103. I decided to go to the driving range. It was pretty warm day (85 in the shade) and I started off with 75 ball bucket. I was feeling light headed when I was to 70th ball and I could sense abdominal distress and I decided to lie down on the range itself. Luckily there was an observation chair behind the hitting area and I laid on the ground and was hoping for the feeling to go away. After little grumbling on my stomach the diarrhea feeling gradually receded and I got up and started walking towards the car. I was going to pass out near my car and so I just laid down on the parking lot with leg raised on the bumper of the car. After a few minutes I got up and got inside my car, tilted the chair as horizontally as possible with my legs on the dashboard and rested for ten minutes with full blast of A/C inside the car. I was feeling refreshed and drove home safely and I decided to measure all my vitals. My pulse had come back to normal but my blood pressure had dropped down 20mm both sys and dia and the killer was my blood sugar had jumped to 153!. I knew I did not have anything during the time and was sure due to the blood volume reduction. I started rehydrating myself and after a liter of water my sugar level dropped to 130. Even though II did not have actual lower bowel flooding was enough to drop the blood volume and increase my blood sugar and decrease my blood pressure drastically.

The question I am wrestling with is how to prevent the abdominal distress before it starts. I'll let you all know if I am successful.


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.
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