Spreading the Love: How to Overcome Fear when Donating Blood
While none of us typically enjoy getting blood taken, there are many people out there who genuinely fear needles. If you’re one of these people, don’t worry, you are far from alone. This fear is one of the top 10 rated fears in the United States, with 50 million Americans suffering from an extreme fear of needles. This intense anxiety can disrupt both important medical procedures and routine health maintenance. Not only is it a huge deterrent for getting your annual flu shot, which is wildly important for preventing the spread of influenza, but it can also discourage people from donating blood.
The anxieties that we feel about needles often don’t match up with the reality of the situation. Getting blood drawn or getting a shot is minimally painful and under the right sanitary circumstances, generally very safe. The issue has to do with mental attitudes surrounding the event. The needles used to draw blood are usually only 16- or 17-gauge needles, which are not wide enough in diameter to cause you any severe pain or bodily harm. Learning the importance behind blood donation and how to better prepare can help make it less intimidating in the future.
Why You Should Donate Blood
Donating blood is an important part of our established medical system and it saves countless lives. Hundreds to thousands of patients need blood each day in both regular and emergency transfusions. Approximately 36,000 units of blood are needed every day for these transfusions, and banks aren’t building the stockpile that they need for patient security. Blood donations are a vital source of life for many people including cancer patients, accident victims, post-operation patients, and many more.
Furthermore, donating blood not only saves lives, but it also has tangible benefits for the donor. Donating blood can actually improve the viscosity of your blood and improve overall cardiovascular health.
How to Prepare for Your Donation
Even if you cannot seem to manage your anxiety about needles, there are some things that you can do to make the process easier. One of the most important things you can do is to properly prepare your body with a few simple steps:
- Make sure that you get plenty of sleep the evening before
- Eat a balanced meal before you go and a snack right afterward
- Avoid fatty foods due to the fat deposits that can build up in your blood
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate your veins and prevent passing out
When you get to the actual facility, try to do everything you can to calm your nerves. Try closing your eyes to avoid catching sight of the needle and its insertion. Additionally, nurses say that talking through the insertion can distract patients enough to skirt major anxiety.
Spreading the Love
Overall, blood donation provides an important resource to those in need, and regular donations should be praised. While blood donation has many benefits, it’s still important for everyone to stay up to date on their doctors’ visits to keep track of their cardiovascular health! Regular visits to the cardiologist and a heart-healthy lifestyle are strongly encouraged. Check out our blog for tips or schedule a visit with one of our qualified doctors today!