Donating blood can help save lives, but the prospect of having a needle
in your arm for about 10 minutes can seem daunting. Here are five things
you can do to make the process as stress free as possible:
1. Eat and drink wisely. In the days leading up to your donation, eat a healthy diet heavy in iron--that
means spinach, poultry, beans, fish, dried fruit or fortified cereals.
The body needs iron to produce red blood cells and you'll want to
build up an ample supply of iron, as you lose a lot through donating blood.
On the day of your appointment, skip fatty foods--if there's fat in
the blood, it can't be tested for diseases, and that means your donation
can't be used. Also before your donation, drink 16 ounces of water
to stay well hydrated and maintain proper levels of fluid in the body.
2. Face your fears if you're scared of needles. It's normal to not like being poked with needles, but your fear shouldn't
prevent you from donating blood. Let the technician at the blood drive
know you are scared of needles--he or she can walk you through the process
so you know what's to come and can help calm you. Also, bring a distraction--music,
a book, a friend to talk to--that will take your mind off the needle.
3. Come prepared. You'll need to show ID when you arrive for the blood draw. The blood
drive personnel will want to get a mini-health history (and get some vitals
such as your temperature and blood pressure) so make sure to jot down
any recent illnesses, health conditions or current medications.
4. Dress for success. Tight, constrictive clothing isn't good for you or the technician--comfortable
clothing will help you relax as blood is being drawn and will give the
tech easy access to your arm. Sleeveless or short-sleeved shirts are ideal;
if you have to wear long sleeves, make sure they can easily be rolled
up above the elbow.
5. Take your time. Don't cram an appointment at a blood drive into an already busy day.
You'll want time to rest after the donation is done to prevent wooziness
or fainting. Don't rush out the door, but instead take advantage of
the refreshments that blood drives provide post-donation. You can do normal
activities after drawing blood, except vigorous exercise. And keep up
with the water consumption--aim for about four extra glasses of water
after donating blood, and avoid alcohol. The water will ensure you have
enough fluids in your body to prevent fainting or dehydration; alcohol
doesn't help with that, and can increase any lightheadedness felt
after giving blood.