Overcoming Fears of Blood & Needles

Young patient in dentist office, afraid of anesthetic injection,

Today, Halloween, is the spookiest, creepiest day of the year. It's a day also often marked by blood and fear. It's in that spirit that we effectively combine those latter two things and discuss how it is we can conquer our fear of blood and needles. When that nurse says those horrible six words, "you're going to feel a stick," there's no need to run screaming.

We asked one of our leading Concorde resident experts to chime in on ways to over those fears when the nurse comes calling. Here's what she had to say.

Overcoming the fear of the nurse coming with the needle and blood

"Here are some helpful hints for individuals who get nervous when it comes to needles and blood," said Linda Warsaw-Gazzola, LVN, Vocational Nurse Instructor at Concorde's campus in Garden Grove, Calif.

1. A simple step is to make sure you are well hydrated prior to a blood draw. Why? Because then the nurse who is taking your blood will be able to find your veins more easily. Full veins are much easier to access (and, the more fluid you drink, the plumper your veins get). Ideally, you want to start drinking more fluids the day before your blood draw and continue to drink water before you have your blood drawn. You don't have to overdo it; just make sure you have about 64 ounces a day. This is normally the amount you need for good health. Also, make sure to limit caffeine (it acts as a diuretic).

2. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Let the nurse who is drawing your blood (or giving you an injection) know you are fearful. S/he can do their best to minimize your discomfort by providing comfortable seating, using a tiny needle and distracting you with conversation.

3. During the blood draw, don't hold your breath! A lot of people tend to hold their breath in anticipation of the needle, which does not help at all, especially if you are a person that tends to feel faint. Focus on your breathing; breath at your normal rate. If you do this, you are far less likely to feel light-headed. If potential pain is what makes you nervous, the person drawing your blood might have some numbing medication to minimize the pain. Also, realize that the pain will be over in an instant.

More ways to overcome the fear of the blood-drawing nurse

4. Don't look! Some people get queasy at the sight of blood. If you are one of these people, look away. Read a magazine or watch television; do something to distract yourself.

5. You can ask for an expert. If you have an experienced nurse draw your blood, you are more likely to get a fast, efficient, pain-free stick.

6. Desensitize yourself by researching how needles work, viewing pictures of needles or reading about the importance of injections. The more you are exposed to something, the less threatening they become.

7. Reward yourself. If you actually show up to a doctor's appointment that you would have normally canceled due to needle fear, reward yourself with something special. Then, perhaps you will associate a blood draw or shot with a reward instead of with fear.


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