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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sometimes feel faint, lack of blood to the head, when playing. Someone commented that they had practically passed out when trying to play a trumpet. So assume my experience is normal. Two questions:

1/ What is the physical mechanism causing playing a wind instrument to reduce blood to the head?

2/ It is *very* noticeable that if I try to speak, when feeling thus faint, it gets worse. This interests me greatly because I have a long standing problem with sometimes feeling odd when speaking. Anyone know what's going on - putting a question like this to the medical profession in the UK is a waste of breath?

Great thanks any help.
 

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It's more likely to be down to hyperventilation - a mild form of which is very common with beginners...particularly of the flute.
I believe the solution is to stop breathing (only temporarily, of course) to reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. That's why the paper bag trick works, it allows the sufferer to maintain the panicked breathing while slowly reducing the oxygen (as they re-breathe CO2).

It's something that passes once the embouchure forms...but if you've been playing a while and you're still suffering then it could be something rather more serious.

Regards,
 

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IT sounds like a physical is in order. I can understand playing a long note until you almost pass out - you've simply starved your brain of air, but if talking has you close to fainting, It's time to consult a professional. (Dr. - not sax player)
 

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I agree with Howard. most likely hyperventilation, too much oxygen forced into the blood stream. When I used to used #4 reeds on clarinet, I got the same symptoms.
 

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Anyone know what's going on - putting a question like this to the medical profession in the UK is a waste of breath?
It could be one of many things, although you have diagnosed it as lack of blood to the head I would be wary of self diagnosis.

Whatever you think of UK, doctors, I think you should get a doctor's advice as well as what we think here.
 

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...actually it might be more than just YOU... your surroundings can cause disorientation as well...... i have a higher level of concentration throughout a gig when i use earplugs(which is most of the time!!) of course i enjoy the gigs more where i dont HAVE to wear them.
 

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Speaking as a member of the UK medical profession until I retired recently, it sounds very likely to be hyperventilation. Very difficult to misdiagnose unless you don't think of it - which would be surprising as it's extremely common.

So see your GP and tell him I told you (!) - various ways of handling it from relaxation exercises to breathing education (often via physios). Sometimes an overlap with anxiety states and with physical disease (so some invests worthwhile), though of itself it doesn't tend to respond that well to drug treatment. Which is not surprising as it's not a disease.

Quickie test for the dreaded HV: when suffering, try re-breathing the air by putting a paper bag over your nose and mouth. Rapid improvement ensues. Diagnostic only - it's bad form to walk round town or play gigs with a paper bag on your head. Also try to avoid plastic bag for this test as you tend to die from suffocation - also bad form.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Alright thanks. Not sure I'm convinced it's hyperventilation but I'll do the thing with the bag and see what happens.:)
 

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...
 

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.....im suprised noone has suggested breast reduction surgery...... duhhh!!!
I know you meant this as a 'joke', but really...
Most females tend to find it difficult to find the humor.

As for the light headed feeling being suffered by the OP. I too would guess that it's hyperventilation.
It's not uncommon.
If I have to play or speak in public I use the slow, relaxing breathing techniques that I learned in birthing classes.
Concentrating on making sure the lungs are filling with air from the bottom up and keeping the exhale slow and even helps a lot.
If learning to control your breathing doesn't help, it's time to consult your physician.
There may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.
 

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I was having a chat with a friend last night who's in the medical profession, and apparently there are such things a 'Dizziness clinics'. Seems it's not uncommon, especially in older people, and there are a variety of reasons why people feel a bit unsteady on their pins at times.

As previously mentioned, hyperventilation can be a cause, as can prolonged pressure from the throat. More seriously it could be related to a heart condition.

Might be worth looking for such a clinic locally - you can at least be assured that when you tell them you sometimes feel dizzy, they'll not fob you off.

Regards,
 

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As previously mentioned, hyperventilation can be a cause, as can prolonged pressure from the throat. More seriously it could be related to a heart condition.
It can be related to all kinds of things. I would definitely get it checked out.
 

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Pretty sure hyperventiltion as the doc, Potiphar says. I suffer anxiety. A coupla times i have collapsed...fainted? Playin too hard on hot days both times. Probably stressed also. DO however get it checked by a gp. Remember...we are lucky to have a National Health Service....a
 

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....in regards to my cheeky comment earlier... i didnt mean to offend... i was sarcastically(and i admit it didnt transllate well) that this IS a serious matter and that In my opinion there is no simple answer....the cure is in defining the cause. And it could be MANY things.... I personally don't have any medical issues,and disorientation still occurs in many forms

I ve often thought of it as good training!! if i were in an emergency situation be it a fire or noxious gas situation,I believe i could cope with the situation as i've been trained now to work with something not operating quite correctly in the engine room!
 

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Hi Pete, that is correct man. An asomic? condition. I was discussing it with my gp yesterday. My mind at times will not close down. It manifests as real physical pain. Forcing your body to stop, in turn gives the mind to rest. I get it often. It can be treated with sedatives....not for me. Been there...nightmare......a
 

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Best advice (as stated by many in this thread): See your GP. I suspect that's not always easy to do as, in my corner of the world, the waiting periord for a GP appointment can be almost 50 days. Still…I think it's important to do since this forum isn't a plausible venue for diagnoses. There are numerous conditions with the symptoms you described; some of which can be serious (e.g. syncope; see link below).

http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4749

The hyperventilation comments in this thread seem excellent. It'd be interesting to hear back from you regarding effectiveness of some of the recommendations.

A slightly more distant consideration might be your posture while playing. Are you standing when these symptoms happen to you? Standing still for long periods with your "knees locked" can restrict circulation and contribute to hypotension (opposite of hypertension). Some of the symptoms of hypotension can seem very similar to hyperventilation (see syncope link).

Good luck.
 

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Dizziness can be an indicator for heart and other circulatory issues.
No doc is gonna ignore it when you tell him about it, and you certainly wont have to wait 50 days for an appointment.
 

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I used to feel faint like that when talking to pretty women. I got over it around age 40 or so. I think it's coming back now though at age 57. I never got that playing the saxophone.

Seriously, I think I would get checked out with some tests though.
 

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