Blood Test 101: How to Prepare For Your First On-Site Blood Testing
Blood tests provide critical information about our bodies. In fact, 50% of medical chart data comes from blood-testing.
From blood pressure testing to checking for allergies, blood tests are essential for maintaining a healthy life. Unfortunately, many patients put off blood tests because they are nervous or afraid.
Are you preparing for an upcoming blood test? If so, keep reading. We’ve broken down what you can expect during your first on-site blood testing experience.
What to Expect When Getting Blood Drawn
The duration of your blood test will depend on how much blood needs to be drawn. If you are donating blood, the process may take ten minutes or more. If you are giving a blood sample, the process should be under five minutes.
Most blood tests begin with the patient seated in a chair. The phlebotomist (a professional who draws blood) will ask you to straighten one of your arms. The arm does not matter, although most people prefer their non-dominant one.
The phlebotomist will wrap a tourniquet around your arm. The elastic band makes it easier to identify which veins to draw blood from. The phlebotomist may touch your arm to feel for the best access point.
Next, the phlebotomist will sanitize the area with an alcohol pad. Then they will insert the needle, which is connected to a syringe. You may feel a slight pinching sensation, but it should only last a few seconds.
When the correct amount of blood is drawn, the phlebotomist will release the tourniquet and remove the needle from your arm. You may feel a slight pressure as the phlebotomist wraps a bandage or gauze around the vein.
After the Blood Test
The phlebotomist will give you instructions on how to proceed next. For simple blood samples, you should be free to leave and safe to drive. If large quantities of blood were taken, you may need to rest for five to ten minutes in the waiting room.
It’s normal for bruising and swelling to occur after drawing blood. Bruising occurs when the phlebotomist applies pressure to the vein. Most bruises disappear within a few days.
If you are getting a blood test, your samples will be sent to a blood-testing laboratory. Once the lab processes the specimen, they will send the results to your doctor. Your doctor will call you and discuss the results. If there is something unusual detected, your doctor may request further testing.
Preparing for On-Site Blood Testing
Being well-prepared for your blood test is the key to a successful trip to the phlebotomist. Not all blood tests require the same steps. It’s essential to understand what test you are receiving and follow directions from your doctor.
Blood tests that require fasting include:
- Liver function tests
- Cholesterol tests
- Triglyceride level tests
- Lipoprotein panel tests
- Blood glucose tests
- HDL and LDL tests
- Metabolic panel tests
Fasting ensures the tests are accurate. Food, beverages, and vitamins impact results and prevent specialists from obtaining a correct reading.
The type of test will determine how long you need to fast. Many require eight hours, but some call for 12-hour fasts. In most cases, you can continue to drink water. However, other beverages (like coffee and alcohol) are off-limits.
If you need to fast before your test, schedule an early appointment. Blood testing sites usually offer early-morning appointments for fasting patients. This way, the hours you spend asleep count towards your fast.
Another tip: bring a snack. Chances are, you are going to be starving after your fast. Bring some crackers or fruit to munch on after your blood has been drawn.
If it is okay to drink water leading up to an appointment, do it! In fact, drink more water than you normally would. The best thing you can do for your body before giving blood is to hydrate it.
Water makes giving blood easier because blood is 50% water. The more water you consume, the plumper your veins become. Bigger veins make it easier for a phlebotomist to draw blood.
Drinking water also makes fasting easier. It fills your belly and subsides hunger cravings leading up to your appointment.
Most blood testing sites ask patients to arrive 15 minutes early for their appointments. This allows plenty of time to complete paperwork, provide the lab with the correct insurance information, and ask questions.
Another reason to arrive early is convenience. If the testing site is not busy, they may perform your test ahead of schedule. That’s great news to someone who has been fasting and can’t wait to eat!
Tips for Getting Through Your First Blood Test
Trypanophobia is the fear of needles. It affects 25% of US adults. The phobia causes intense fear and anxiety around blood testing, even though the process is completely safe.
The good news is there are simple ways to ease anxiety and stay calm while giving blood.
Deep breathing exercises are excellent for reducing stress before a blood test. Before you enter the testing site, perform a few deep breaths in your car. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you can, hold your breath for four seconds and breathe out for another four.
Before your appointment, tell your phlebotomist you have anxiety. Your phlebotomist can talk you through the process or casually chitchat to divert attention from the needle in your arm.
If talking doesn’t help, try listening to comforting music during the blood test. Pick a mellow artist or a song that never fails to cheer you up. Focus on the rhythm or lyrics while the phlebotomist draws blood. Before you know it, the test will be done.
Ready for Your First Blood Test?
On-site blood testing is nothing to be scared of. As long as you know what to expect and what to do leading up to your appointment, your blood test should be easy-peasy.
Are you ready for your first blood test?
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