Even if you’re not afraid of blood – or needles! – having your blood drawn for testing may not be something you’re eager to do. Here are some tips to make it a bit easier.
1. Find out if you need to “fast” before testing
Many blood tests, such as cholesterol tests, require fasting in order to get accurate results. This means no food or drink (besides water) can be taken by the person for 8-12 hours before the test (including chewing gum and even breath mints!). So nothing after dinner, and no breakfast in the morning before you go to the lab.
A simple guide is to use 12 hours as your measurement. If you plan to go to the lab at 8 am, start fasting at 8 pm the night before.
2. Drink plenty of water before your test
Even though you might be fasting, drinking water before you go to bed and then before you have your blood drawn is a good idea in order to avoid dehydration. In most cases, when you are properly hydrated, it can make it easier for the lab technician to locate a draw vein. Consuming another glass or two after you’ve had your blood taken to replace your fluids is also recommended.
3. Plan to hit the lab early to get your blood drawn
Especially for a fasting blood test, try to get to the lab first thing in the morning. Some labs open at 7 am or even earlier. If you wake up hungry or normally feel weak before you eat breakfast, it is okay to bring juice or a snack with you to the lab… for AFTER your blood has been taken!
4. Make sure you bring your paperwork
If you’ve already ordered and paid for your test through Personalabs, you’ve completed all of the paperwork. Bring your confirmation lab order with you. The lab will verify your information for your protection.
5. Let the phlebotomist do the work
A phlebotomist is a lab technician who is specifically trained to draw blood. She will usually ask you which arm you prefer for the venipuncture (the name of the actual procedure). A tourniquet will be applied to your arm, and she will touch your arm to feel for a vein. Sometimes veins are hard to find. But don’t worry – phlebotomists know what they’re doing.
6. Follow all instructions and answer all questions clearly
Once she’s found a vein, your phlebotomist will tell you what she needs you to do. She’ll insert a needle – which will pinch or sting a bit – and then give you instructions. Make her job easier by following them. Be sure to answer all questions truthfully and feel free to ask questions, as well.
7. Don’t forget to breathe!
It may be hard to relax while you’re getting your blood taken, but try not to pull away or move around. If you’re squeamish, you don’t need to watch as your blood is drawn into tubes. If you start feeling nervous, close your eyes and focus on just one thing: breathing.
8. Yes, you’ve got enough blood
Many times a phlebotomist will fill more than one tube of blood. Each tube actually holds a quantity of only about a teaspoon, so there’s no need for concern.
9. Leave the bandage in place
After the needle is removed, a bandage will be applied to your arm. Again, follow the phlebotomist’s instructions. Even if you think you’ve stopped bleeding, removing the bandage too soon could result in bruising.
10. Remember to refuel
So you’re done! The whole process probably only took a few minutes. Now – especially if you’re rushing off to work – don’t forget to enjoy a nice breakfast and lunch. This will help give you energy and keep your day moving forward in the right, healthy direction.
Hopefully these pointers give you the confidence to get your blood drawn