16B. Differential diagnosis of short-term loss of consciousness

Page created on June 3, 2021. Not updated since.


The majority of short-term losses of consciousness are syncope. Syncope can be caused by:

  • Cardiac syncope
  • Reflex syncope
  • Autonomic dysfunction
  • Recent change in drugs

The clinical features which suggest syncope rather than seizures are:

  • Presence of prodromal symptoms
    • Blurry vision, sight goes dark
    • Sweating
  • Lasts seconds
  • Patient is oriented immediately after
  • See also convulsive syncope (topic 4B)


The clinical features which suggest epileptic seizures rather than syncope are:

  • Absence of prodromal symptoms (often sudden blackout)
  • Lasts minutes
  • Enuresis
  • Muscle soreness
  • Bitten tongue on lateral part
  • Patient has postictal period of tenebrosity and disorientation after

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16A. Clinical symptoms of insufficient blood supply in territory of carotid and vertebral artery

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17A. Types and etiology of unconsciousness. Coma

Parent page:
Neurology 2

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