Don’t fear the needle

Posted on 14 June 2016

Scared of needles? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. According to some estimates, one in every five people suffer from it – which can make donating blood or giving a blood sample a real nightmare…

Ouch! Look, very few people actually like getting sharp needles jabbed into their arms. But for some people it’s a real fear, called trypanophobia. The trouble with that is, your fear of needles could be preventing you from donating blood, from getting a routine blood test, from following prescribed treatment or from receiving life-saving medical care. Diabetics, in particular, cannot afford to suffer from a fear of needles, because their glucose monitoring and insulin injections can be the difference between life and death.

There are a few things you can do to ease your nerves. First, share your fear with your nurse. As a medical professional, your nurse will talk to you about your options, and take special precautions to make the process less scary – if not less painful.

Don’t worry about feeling self-conscious when you tell them about your fears: Mediclinic nurses are trained to put you at ease before they give you the jab.

Fortunately, your nurse – and you – might get a warning that things are about to go wrong. For many people, their fear of needles is linked to fainting. This is because when they see that needle coming, their fear is triggered, which causes their heart rate and blood pressure to spike, and then suddenly drop. That’s when (and why) fainting occurs.

If you’re donating blood, you’ll notice that the needle is thicker than other hypodermic needles. If you have a fear of needles, that’s not great news. Here again, talk to the nurse on duty, and position your arm in such a way that the needle has clear access to your vein.

One of the most effective ways to deal with it is to just avoid looking. When you’re about to get an injection, simply look away. Some patients find that closing their eyes helps; other people find that staring off into the distance is distraction enough. If your eyes don’t see the danger coming, your body won’t tense up, and your anxiety won’t be as intense.



Published in Patient Stories

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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