How to Overcome Your Fear of Blood Tests

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Blood Tests 

Fear of needles, or trypanophobia, is very common. Just the thought of holding out your arm for the phlebotomist is enough to bring on sweaty palms and a dry mouth. However, it is possible to gain some control over your fear and get that blood test done. For a successful visit to the collection clinic, try these simple yet effective ideas.

Trust your phlebotomist; they are very skilled at their job and would be more than happy to put you at ease. Let them know that you are nervous about needles and they will do their very best to take your sample with the minimum of discomfort. If necessary they could choose to use the tiniest of needles, called a butterfly, during the collection procedure. Ask them if this would be suitable in your case.

Drink a glass of water beforehand. This helps to maintain good blood volume and assists the phlebotomist to find a co-operative vein. There's nothing your phlebotomist hates more than a collapsing vein that refuses to give blood. Anything that lessens the need for another attempt is always worth a try.

To avoid perching like a tightly coiled spring in the collection chair, learn some basic meditation techniques to put into practice, like slow and regular deep breathing and the release of muscle tension. Practice a favorite mantra (a sound or word repeated in meditation) and use it during the collection. Less body tension means less discomfort and a relaxed arm will keep that vein prominent and accessible.

If you are not undergoing a fasting test, then have some food to raise your blood sugars. This will help keep your brain alert and make you less prone to fainting. If you do have a tendency to faint, inform your phlebotomist and they will arrange for you to lie down during the collection. This way, you'll reduce any chance of falling off the chair!


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If you are very brave, you could watch the collection being done. Otherwise, distract yourself by looking at something interesting on the opposite wall, or thinking of a fun activity to do when you're finished. Don't worry about the amount of blood collected in all those vials as your body will replace it all within a few hours.

Now that you're done - and that wasn't so bad now, was it? - follow any post-collection instructions your phlebotomist gives you. It's usually not a good idea to immediately carry heavy items like shopping bags with the collection arm, as that could lead to the clot shifting and the puncture site bleeding or the formation of a large and painful bruise.

It's important not to transfer your fear of needles on to a child, so if your child requires a blood test, consider asking a trusted friend or relative to take them to the collection clinic in your place. Children are very good at picking up bad vibrations, especially from their primary caregiver. 

You may be surprised to hear how well they tolerated the procedure. A positive approach to all things medical, including needles, will stand your child in good stead for their adult years.

Needle phobia need not prevent you from getting that necessary blood test done. By using simple measures like drinking water before the test, releasing tension in your body, distracting yourself with pleasant thoughts and sharing any concerns you may have with your friendly phlebotomist, the collection will be over before you know it. Why not reward yourself afterwards with a treat for a job well done? You certainly deserve it.

About the author: Sonny Choun is part of our Marketing Team here at Pivot Insurance. He enjoys playing outdoor sports, bowling with friends, and spending time with family. His talent and expertise are a reflection of the Pivot culture. He believes life insurance is an essential part of a family's financial security. Sonny can be contacted at 1-800-651-1953 or schoun@sbsb.com.

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