Help me not faint when donating blood
July 31, 2014 8:00 AM Subscribe
Sometimes I have a dramatic vasovagal response (i.e. I pass out) after having blood drawn or donating blood. Sometimes I don't. This means that I donate blood less than I'd like to. Can I condition myself out of this?
posted by pullayup to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This question was prompted by my yearly health screening, which includes taking several vials of blood. This morning I did not feel lightheaded or pass out, no problem. In the past, I have, but there doesn't seem to be any kind of pattern I can discern to fainting vs. not-fainting, i.e. exercise immediately before the draw, food eaten (today I fasted for 12 hours and was fine), time of day, etc.
When I do faint it can be rapid, with only a few seconds between starting to feel off and hitting the floor, and often comes on a while after the needle is out of my arm. Sometimes I've even spent 10-15 minutes sitting around feeling fine, and then as soon as I decide to walk out the door I urgently have to lay down on the sidewalk outside.
This isn't a huge a problem for blood draws, as they're infrequent (once a year, generally) and I'm not generally a squeamish person, so I don't have trouble with anticipatory nervousness or avoidance. However, I do worry that I'm going to injure myself by falling someday, and I avoid donating blood because passing out is, honestly, pretty unpleasant.
I've tried things like drinking salty fluids and clenching muscles but nothing seems to help, and I don't seem to be desensitized by repeated exposure--for a while I was donating blood regularly and still frequently (but not predictably) passed out. I would really like to donate blood regularly. Is there anything else I can try? Does everyone pass out when donating, and they're just toughing it out? Can I eventually manage to desensitize myself?