Does the thought of having blood drawn at your doctor’s office send a chill up your spine, or even worse make you feel lightheaded? This fear isn’t as uncommon as you might think, although some people are hesitant to talk about it at risk of seeming cowardly or strange. Interestingly, this fear seems to be more common in men than in women, although it affects both sexes. If you want to stay healthy, fear of getting blood drawn is important one to overcome since a tube of blood can tell you so much about your general health. Here are some ways to lessen your fear of venipuncture.
Don’t hide your fear.
Although you may be embarrassed by your fear, it’s important to let the lab technician know before getting blood drawn, particularly if you have a tendency to become lightheaded. Once the technician is aware, she can take special steps to help you feel more comfortable during the procedure. For example, she can have you lie down in one of the exam rooms instead of drawing your blood in an uncomfortable sitting position. Keep in mind that doctors, nurses, and technicians encounter this problem all the time and can readily accommodate your fear.
If you fear pain from the needlestick
Generally people who are afraid of getting blood drawn fall into two different categories; those who fear the pain of a needlestick and those who fear seeing blood removed from their body. If you fall into the first category, ask the technician to use a butterfly needle for your venipuncture. These needles are much smaller and are usually less painful than standard needles. Most technicians will be happy to do this. Another option is to ask them to use a local anesthetic spray to numb the area before sticking you. Most doctor’s offices have this spray readily available and it can be quite effective.
If you fear the sight of or loss of blood
If this is your biggest fear, having blood drawn while you’re lying down is a good idea. This will allow you to relax and protect you in the event you should become lightheaded. Most technicians will be happy to have you lie down during the procedure. Before the procedure begins, lie on the table a few minutes and take slow, deep breaths to relax. Use the power of distraction to take your mind off of the procedure. Turn your head away and tell the technician a funny story or joke. Tell her about your children or your pets, but keep talking. It’s hard to be afraid when you’re engrossed in a good story. Once the procedure is over, lie on the exam table for at least five minutes and then get up slowly, especially if you have a history of feeling lightheaded.
If you develop a good rapport with a particular technician and feel comfortable with her skills, schedule your doctor’s appointment on days when he or she is working. Having someone you trust perform the procedure is important when getting blood drawn. Whatever you do, don’t let your fear keep you from getting the regular medical care you need to stay healthy.