Recurrent laughter-induced syncope

Neurologist. 2012 Jul;18(4):214-5. doi: 10.1097/NRL.0b013e31825cf1c5.


Introduction: Syncope is a common presenting complaint in Neurology clinics or Emergency departments, but its causes are sometimes difficult to diagnose. Apart from vasovagal attacks, other benign, neurally mediated syncopes include "situational" syncopes, which occur after urination, coughing, swallowing, or defecation.

Case report: A healthy 42-year-old male patient presented to the neurology clinic with a long history of faints triggered by spontaneous laughter, especially after funny jokes. Physical and neurological examination, and electroencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging were unremarkable. There was no evidence to suggest cardiogenic causes, epilepsy, or cataplexy and a diagnosis of laughing syncope was made.

Conclusions: Laughter-induced syncope is usually a single event in the majority of cases, but may present as recurrent attacks as in our case. Some cases occur in association with underlying neurological conditions. Prognosis is good in the case of neurally mediated attacks. Laughter may not be recognized by physicians as a cause of syncope, which may lead to unnecessary investigations or misdiagnosis, and affect patients' quality of life.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Laughter / physiology*
  • Male
  • Syncope, Vasovagal / etiology*