When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, blood draws are likely to be a recurring to-do item on your health checklist. Whether it’s for an annual physical, frequent appointments for chronic conditions, or tests to diagnose a health issue, the time will come where you need to schedule a blood draw. While some people see this as a slightly inconvenient but no big deal task, others get nervous at the first mention of a blood test.
Feeling a little squeamish, whether due to fear around blood or needles, is common, and if you fall into the group of being afraid, there are some tips you can take. Adria Marallo, Sr. Director, Pre-Analytical Technical Excellence at BioReference Laboratories has many years of experience in this area and provided some of her top tips to prepare for a blood draw.
1. Know your blood test requirements.
The most common question related to blood tests is “do I have to fast before a blood test?” The answer depends on the type of test you are having done. For example, glucose and some cholesterol tests require fasting for at least eight hours, unless your doctor states otherwise. Fasting means no eating or drinking with the exception of water (sorry, that means no coffee until after your test). If you’re getting a test that you’re unfamiliar with, you can always consult your healthcare provider ahead of time for more information. Going in with the right information, and preparation, will help you avoid needing to schedule another time to redo the test.
2. Stay hydrated.
Water before a blood test is usually a safe choice, and it can have many benefits during your blood draw. If you can have water before your test, it’s encouraged to drink up as much as you can. In general being well hydrated makes you feel better, but when it comes to a blood draw, being hydrated can make it easier for the phlebotomist to access your veins. Additionally, drinking water before a blood test helps keep blood pressure from dropping, and avoid dehydration.
3. Communicate any fears and key information.
Phlebotomists, the professionals trained to complete blood draws, know that many people struggle with blood draws for a variety of reasons. There is no reason to be embarrassed about why it makes you uncomfortable, and sharing your fears can make the process even smoother. Whether you are known to faint, or just get a little woozy, telling the phlebotomist ahead of time that you might struggle helps you, and them. They are trained to help you through the process and may sit you in a reclining chair, talk to you to keep you distracted, or coach you through some deep breathing tips.
Additionally, if you are on any type of blood-thinning medication, you’ll want to tell the phlebotomist before the draw. Bleeding can take a little longer to stop if you’re on this kind of medication, so they will take extra care to ensure the bleeding has stopped before sending you on your way.
This is a very simple step but when in a moment of panic or nerves, remembering to take deep breaths goes right out the window. There are many breathing exercises you can find online, or turn to popular mediation apps through your smartphone to help you in the moment. While uncomfortable, blood tests usually don’t take long, and before you know it, you’ll have a bandage and be off to your next adventure.
Next steps for a blood test
While it may not be a fun task, listening to your healthcare provider and getting blood tests when you need them can have many benefits to your long-term health. If finding the time to get your blood drawn stops you Scarlet can help. When you schedule an appointment for a blood draw with Scarlet, a trained professional will visit you at your home or workplace to collect your blood sample and deliver it to BioReference Laboratories for testing.