Here's a little background on "smelling salts":
First, a search in the Columbia Encyclopedia via
Bartleby.com redirected to the Columbia Encyclopedia entry on ammonia.
Once arriving at that page, about halfway down is a definition of smelling salts:
Ammonium carbonate, (NH3)2CO3·H2O, is a colorless-to-white crystalline solid commonly known as smelling salts; in water solution it is sometimes called aromatic spirits of ammonia.
Want to know a little more about smelling salts? Everyone has seen them used to revive countless athletes when they've been knocked silly, back to the search results to discover how smelling salts actually work...
Discovery.com explains why people sit up and take notice when smelling salts are placed beneath their nose: Ammonium carbonate is mixed with perfume to create a stimulant. The ammonia fumes from the salts irritate the membranes of the nose and lungs, which triggers a reflex causing the muscles that control breathing to work faster.
What are the first aid steps for Fainting?
1. Make sure that the casualty is in a safe situation
Lay the casualty flat on her or his back.
Elevate the casualty's legs to restore blood flow to the brain.
Loosen tight clothing.
2. Try to Revive the Casualty
Shake the casualty vigorously, tap briskly, pass smelling salts (ammonia inhalants) under the nose, or yell. If the casualty doesn't respond right away, call 911. Follow CPR instructions if appropriate and if you are trained to do so.
3. Home Treatment for Simple Fainting
If the casualty is alert, give fruit juice, especially if the person has not eaten in more than 6 hours or has diabetes. Do not give anything caffeinated or alcoholic to drink. Stay with the casualty until the casualty is fully recovered.
4. Call a Health Care Professional
See a health care professional right away if the casualty:
Hit her or his head when fainting.
Faints more than once in a month, Is pregnant, or has a heart condition or other serious illness.
Experiences unusual symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, or difficulty talking.
What causes syncope?
It may be caused by emotional stress, pain, pooling of blood in the legs due to sudden changes in body position, overheating, dehydration, heavy sweating or exhaustion. Syncope may occur during violent coughing spells (especially in men) because of rapid changes in blood pressure. It also may result from several heart, neurological, psychiatric, metabolic and lung disorders. And it may be a side effect of some medicines
So... Now you know about "smelling salts", syncope & fainting first aid!