The condition can be triggered by simply curling or combing a person's hair.
A woman's Facebook post warning of a seizure-like condition triggered by simply curling or combing a person's hair. has gone viral. It's called hair-grooming syncope. Ever heard of it? Well, neither had Alicia Renee Phillips, a mom of three from Clinton, Tennessee. But now, she's sharing her story after styling her kid sister's hair that strangely led to an emergency room visit. Phillips told Good Morning America she was helping Gracie Brown, 10, get ready for Sunday school one morning. Gracie had stayed over at Phillips' home the previous night. "I said, 'Hey let's curl your hair, put some makeup on and have some fun sister time before church,'" Phillips recalled telling her sister. "She kind of closed her eyes and leaned forward. She's a goofy kid and I thought she was joking. She did it again and made a gagging sound like she was going to throw up, and that's when I rushed my girls out of the bathroom."
Phillips started to get worried. She quickly called her mother, Lisa Brown, to let her know Gracie wasn't feeling well. After checking her temperature, which was normal, the young girl collapsed. "She was unresponsive and not moving," Phillips said. "I was screaming for my husband to come into the bathroom, and he was taking her pulse, trying to say her name. It was probably the scariest thing I've ever seen." A minute later Gracie began blinking, speaking and her hands were shaking. "I'm terrified at this point because I don't know if she's got seizures that we don't know about," Phillips explained.
A viral social media post raises awareness about a little-known condition called hair-grooming syncope. Our expert explains here: https://t.co/tyyAbLMUIk #HairGroomingSyncope pic.twitter.com/fpB0ICtcVk— HCA Healthcare (@HCAhealthcare) July 25, 2019
The young girl was rushed to a hospital and after a couple of tests, she received a rare diagnosis from the emergency room doctor. "I must have looked at him like he had four heads," Brown said. "I said, 'I've never heard of that before.' He said, 'This is real.' He said he sees one-to-five cases a year, but there a probably a lot more -- not everyone goes to the emergency room [for it]." Santa Monica-based dermatologist Sonia Batra told the media outlet that the condition "is thought to be due to a sudden drop in blood pressure, which temporarily decreases blood supply to the brain." Batra added that some people are more sensitive than others when it comes to uncomfortable sensations like hair grooming. "Hair-grooming syncope is a similar response to people who faint from having their blood drawn or at the sight of blood," Batra said. "We think it is the same vagus nerve response that causes the drop in blood pressure, and hence the blackouts, in all of these situations."
Michael W. Riker, a pediatric emergency room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital where Gracie was treated, told GMA that the most common symptoms are nausea, light-headedness, diaphoresis (sweating), vision changes, and loss of consciousness (syncope). The good news is that children will typically outgrow events of hair-grooming syncope. "As with almost all forms of syncope,” he said, “the recommendations are to avoid dehydration [by] increasing water and salt intake, as well as avoiding prolonged periods of standing and irregular meal times. " Batra advises that it's best to stay well-hydrated and make sure you eat before hair grooming. "If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded or clammy while hair grooming, stop and take a break," Batra said. "If you can, lie down and elevate your legs with pillows or prop them up until the sensation passes."