Washington, November 26 : Feeling light-headedness while at the dentist's may be a sign of vasovagal syncope, a serious condition characterized by a loss of consciousness and muscle tone, say health experts.
Dr. Rubia Kapusta, lead author of a report published in the journal General Dentistry, insists that both dentists and patients should be aware of the signs of this condition, and be prepared in case it occurs.
The author reveals that vasovagal syncope is typically preceded by non-specific symptoms that last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute.
Dr. Kapusta notes that such symptoms result from alterations in the nervous system that can include dizziness, light-headedness, paleness, palpitations, nausea, sweating, hyperventilation, and changes in vision.
"Any patient who experiences a syncope reaction may have an underlying cause that can predispose him or her to a life-threatening situation," says Dr. Kapusta.
The report also describes vasovagal syncope as a common clinical problem that occurs among patients of all ages, affecting 3.5 percent of the general population.
It states that emotional stress, anxiety, pain, fatigue and being in a hot and crowded environment can lead to vasovagal syncope.
"It is not uncommon for patients to experience some anxiety when visiting their general dentist. Yet, there are ways to lessen the possibility of an anxiety-related incident," says AGD spokesperson, Melvin Pierson.
Dr. Pierson recommends patients to discuss with their general dentist any fears they may have, and when seeing a dentist for the first time, schedule a preliminary visit.
"Asking questions and requesting informational materials can help you get a better understanding of your dental service or treatment. General dentists are trained to answer questions and tell you what to expect to help you feel comfortable," says Dr. Pierson.
Just in case the signs of vasovagal syncope appear, the dental procedure will be immediately stopped and treatment provided as soon as possible.