4 Tips for Making Blood Tests Easier
Blood tests are standard diagnostic tools in the medical industry. However, as you work with your physician to diagnose, treat, and monitor certain conditions and diseases, you may be exposed to numerous blood tests. Taking a blood test is usually a simple process. Still, if your veins roll away from needles under pressure, scar tissue has developed from repeated needle sticks, or you have a fear of needles, blood testing can be scary or frustrating. Our experts on dermatopathology in Pittsburgh, PA, suggest these tips for making blood tests easier:
If you are anxious about a blood test, it helps to tell your lab professional. They often recommend distractions like listening to music, lying down for the test, and looking away while the test is taken. In addition, moisturizing your skin may reduce the pain caused by the needle stick, and having someone hold your hand during the test can help you feel more comfortable. Finally, ask if the lab has a distraction tool available if you are incredibly nervous. For example, some labs have a device called the Buzzy that is applied to your injection site to cool and vibrate against your skin to distract the nerves, so you do not feel the needle stick.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking lots of water can make your blood test easier. Drinking a few extra glasses of water a day or two before the test ensures good hydration and helps your blood flow better, especially if you drink a little extra just before your needle stick. If the lab test you are taking requires fasting, be sure to confirm if the fast includes water.
Improve blood flow with movement
When you have to wait for your test, it can help to get up and move around to increase your blood pressure and help your blood flow easier. Wearing a sweater or hoodie is also a good idea because when you are warm, your blood flows better. In addition, regular movement and exercise are long-term solutions for improved blood flow. Also, regularly doing arm and hand exercises makes your veins more prominent and easier to locate during lab tests.
Try a different body part or ask for a different needle
Finding a vein can sometimes be a challenge. Phlebotomists often try adjusting your tourniquet or warming the site with a warm compress. Sometimes it is easier and less painful to locate a vein with a butterfly needle's flexible, winged tubing, especially for people with small veins. Occasionally, lab techs will use a tool called an infrared vein finder to locate veins beneath the skin. If they have trouble finding a vein, ask your phlebotomist about the possibility of drawing blood from other body parts.
The best way to have an easier blood test is to advocate on your own behalf. Even if you are not nervous about the test, you still have the right to make it the best experience possible, whatever that means for you. That right includes being able to ask questions, request a different phlebotomist, stop a test in progress, and go to a different lab.