Being afraid of needles is not exclusive to being a kid. There are plenty of adults that break out into cold sweats just thinking about getting a shot or drawing blood. A lot of people do not realize that tensing up while getting your blood drawn actually makes the experience even worse as the stress can temporarily spike your blood pressure. This spike causes your blood vessels to narrow, making it harder for your PhlebotomyU trained phlebotomist to find your veins to draw blood. There are some things you can do as a patient that will make the experience for both you and your phlebotomist better.
Avert Your Eyes
Ignoring the arm that is being looked at is one of the best things you can do. Do not look at it. Do not even watch it. When you watch it, it may cause vasovagal syncope, meaning that your heart rate and pressure may drop quickly. This also reduces the amount of blood flow to your brain. You could pass out because of this. Avoid all of this by looking the other way when drawing blood.
Breath, Breath, Breath
Remember your breathing. Keep your breathing slow and steady. Breath deeply through the diaphragms. Resist the urge to hold your breath when the needle is inching closer. Remember to breathe. Stoping the flow of oxygen can make you more anxious. To keep track of your breathing count the breaths. Doing this not only helps you remember to breathe, but it also allows you to focus on something other than getting your blood drawn.
While we are on the topic of shifting your attention from the needle to your breathing, another way to calm your nerves is to start a conversation with your phlebotomy technician. Talking can help calm your nerves. You can talk to them about anything like your job, the weather, your favorite sports team or whatever topics make your more comfortable. It can also help you to breathe. Talking will make the whole experience go by faster, so give it a try.
Hydrate Before Your Appointment
This all depends on the type of blood test you are getting as some require that you fast from both food and water before your blood test. Your veins may narrow because of dehydration. Make sure you find out a few days before your appointment. If you are required to fast from food and water, be sure to be hydrated as much as possible in the time leading up to the time you have to stop eating and drinking. If water is not off-limits, drink as much as it takes to stay hydrated.
Sometimes the doctor’s office can be really cold. Be sure to bring warm clothes like a sweater, hoodie or long-sleeved shirt. That way you are not shivering while you are getting your blood test. Being cold also constricts your veins, making it harder to find your vein.