Does the Sight of Blood Make Your Child Feel Faint?

Does the Sight of Blood Make Your Child Feel Faint?

If your child feels faint when they see blood, Halloween is probably not your favorite holiday. The reaction may be caused by vasovagal syncope – the term for a rapid drop in blood pressure and heart rate which can trigger fainting. The condition, set off by anxiety or emotional distress, is more common in teenagers, but can also occur in children and preschoolers. Teaching your teen or little one how to handle a “bloody” situation before it happens can help them and you feel less stressed.

TEACH YOUR PRESCHOOLERS THAT BLOOD ISN’T ALWAYS BAD. It’s normal for kids this age to find blood upsetting – they’ve already learned that the red boo-boos hurt. Here are some simple explanations to help make blood seem a little less scary:

• Your body needs blood. Blood keeps you warm. It brings oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body from your nose to your toes.
• When you bleed a little bit from an injury, it’s actually good. Blood washes germs and dirt away. It makes a scab like a shield so your skin underneath can get better. (So don’t pick your scabs!)
• A little scrape may hurt and bleed, but your body easily replaces the blood that is lost.
• Blood is red because of the all the ingredients in it like iron that help our bodies.
• If you or a friend is bleeding, come find me or another grown up and we will help you.

BOO-BOOs ARE INEVITABLE, but a breakdown doesn’t have to be. Carry around a mini first-aid kit for speedy wound care. With your child’s input, develop a game plan for what to do when there’s blood involved. Come up with specific ideas (cuddles with a stuffed animal, listening to music, slow breathing, walking away, etc) to help her feel more comfortable and in control.

IF “TRUE” BLOOD makes your child feel uncomfortable, the fake stuff may have the same impact. In general, preschoolers shouldn’t be exposed to shows or movies that contain bloody or graphic scenes. The line between reality and fantasy is blurred for young children, so steer sensitive kids away from graphic displays. With older kids, you may be able to prepare them in advance if you think they may see something a little too realistic – or decide together to avoid it.

IF YOUR CHILD DOES FEEL dizzy, have him sit with his head between his knees or lie down for 10-15 minutes. Some kids may say, ‘I feel funny,’ or not verbalize symptoms, and appear pale. Once your child feels normal again, and have him slowly sit back up. Reassure him that everything is okay.

The good news is that most kids will outgrow or learn to self-manage an extreme response to seeing blood. And in the meantime, try to keep Halloween décor more “great pumpkin patch” and less “return of the slasher flick part 3.”

Mike Patrick, MD
Dr. Mike is an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s and host of PediaCast, our pediatric podcast for moms and dads. Each week, PediaCast covers news parents can use, answers listener questions, and delivers interviews with pediatric experts on a variety of topics. Dr Mike is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he serves as a faculty advisor for medical students. On the home front, he is married with two kids: a college-aged daughter and a son in high school. Prior to working in the emergency department, Dr Mike spent 10 years in a busy private practice, a time he says most prepared him for the practical advice he shares on PediaCast. Dr Mike also has an interest in roller skating. He learned to walk with skates on his feet, and his first job (age 10) was as a disc jockey at his hometown roller skating rink. He has also worked as a DJ at two radio stations, experiences which further prepared him to host our podcast!

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