How to Overcome Your Fear of Needles During a Blood Test
A fear of needles is no laughing matter. As many as two-thirds of children and one-quarter of adults have strong fears of needles.
Blood tests are an extremely important part of getting medical treatment. Yet thousands of Americans refuse to have their blood drawn due to their fear of needles. You need to take a few steps to overcome your anxiety today.
What should you do to prepare for blood tests? What should you do during the tests themselves? How can you overcome an extreme fear of needles?
Answer these questions and you can live a healthier and fear-free life in no time. Here is your quick guide.
Talk to the Medical Staff
Phlebotomists are doctors who are specialists in collecting blood samples. Many of them have experience with patients who have a fear or anxiety over needles and blood tests.
Talk to your phlebotomist the day before you get a blood test. Tell them about your anxiety and get some suggestions on what you can do to overcome a fear of needles.
You should also talk to the nurses and reception staff at the facility where you are getting your blood drawn. You can tell them that you would like to lie down or have a distraction during the procedure.
Know What to Expect
Many people feel anxious about getting blood drawn because they don’t know about the process. Learning about the blood draw process may be enough to help you start dealing with a fear of needles.
Phlebotomists use the same procedure to draw blood for nearly everyone. They wrap a tourniquet around a person’s arm, which reduces the flow of blood through the arm. They find a vein and then clean the draw site with a little rubbing alcohol.
The phlebotomist may pinch the skin to make the area easier to access. They then insert the needle and collect the blood. Once they remove the needle, they put pressure on the site to reduce blood loss and cover the skin with a bandage.
The entire process takes less than a minute. The tourniquet and the insertion of the needle may be uncomfortable, but the pain passes within a few seconds.
Some people feel lightheaded if they have multiple vials drawn or have not eaten before getting their blood drawn. You do not have to leave right away if you feel swimmy or need to collect your thoughts. You can drink water or eat a few cookies so you have your strength back.
Drink Some Water
You are allowed to drink water before any appointment. You should try to drink at least one glass of water before you leave home. While you are at the hospital or facility, you can continue to drink water until you get your blood drawn.
Try to avoid drinking coffee or tea, as caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you. Some hospitals give juice to their patients after a drawing.
Some tests require you to fast before you get your blood drawn. Talk to your doctor to see if you need to do so. If you need to fast, try eating a meal rich in protein so you remain full for a longer period of time.
Try Deep Breathing
Close your eyes and start taking deep breaths through your nose as soon as you start feeling nervous. Release your breath through your lips and then start over.
Try inhaling for six seconds and exhaling for nine seconds. When you exhale for a long period of time, you release your muscles and relax your body.
You can also try holding your breath for a few seconds before you exhale. This can help your diaphragm and chest muscles relax as you exhale. Holding your breath can distract you from pain in your arm and anxiety as well.
If deep breathing doesn’t work, you can try distracting yourself. At a minimum, look away from the needle as the phlebotomist is handling it. Some phlebotomists hang up works of art or photographs you can look at.
You can also have a conversation with the phlebotomist. Talking to them about a random topic can give your mind something productive to focus on. If you don’t like talking aloud, you can recite the alphabet or count backward inside your head.
Many people are scared of needles because they regard anything that pierces the skin as being a threat to them. It is natural to feel a little anxious before and during a blood test.
But it is not okay if your anxiety inhibits your ability to work or get medical tests. Trypanophobia is an intense fear of needles that causes someone to avoid getting blood drawn. If you believe you are developing trypanophobia, you should go to a psychiatrist for help.
Some people find exposure therapy to be helpful. They look at drawings and photographs of needles, slowly desensitizing them to needles. They then watch videos of injections and blood draws before getting blood drawn themselves.
Overcome Your Fear of Needles
You need to tackle your fear of needles. Talk to your medical team about your fear before you get blood work done. Understand how the test will occur and put any doubts about it out of your mind.
Before the test, you should drink some water and have a snack. You should then try deep breathing and self-distractions during the test. If your fear remains persistent, you can try exposure therapy.
The more you know about blood tests, the less scared you’ll be. Precision Labs serves Midwest medical facilities. Read about our blood testing services today.