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Follow these 9 tips for a quick and easy blood draw.

Your doctor just ordered blood work. Are you anxious? Or is having some blood drawn no big deal, in your opinion? Either way, some preparation can help make the process easier.

Know what you need

Before you go for your bloodwork, take a few minutes to relax and breathe.

“Try not to spend time before your blood draw worrying about it,” says Gustaaf de Ridder, MD, system director for transfusion services at Geisinger. “Go through your day like you normally would.”

If you’re unsure of your lab test requirements (such as fasting), confirm with your doctor or healthcare provider beforehand. And to be sure you get the right amount of blood taken, ask to review which labs you’re having done. “It’s always good to go over which labs your doctor ordered to make sure none get missed,” Dr. de Ridder says.

A better blood draw experience

To make sure your lab test goes as smoothly as possible, follow these tips:

  1. For cholesterol and glucose tests, fast for at least eight hours before having your blood drawn unless your doctor tells you otherwise. So, no eating and don’t drink anything but water. What happens if you don’t fast?  “Because eating can raise your blood sugar, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, if you eat before the test, you may need to come back another time,” says Dr. de Ridder.

  2. Drink plenty of water before your blood test. Staying hydrated helps increase your blood volume. And it plumps up your veins for an easier draw. But avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you. “Being dehydrated changes the levels of electrolytes and other things in your blood, which can make the tests uninterpretable or skew the results,” Dr. de Ridder says.

  3. Eat well. Unless you need to fast for your test, “eat a good meal one to two hours before your bloodwork to prevent lightheadedness,” says Dr. de Ridder. To feel your best, consider doing these things before your bloodwork:

    •    Avoid alcohol
    •    Stay away from fatty or rich foods
    •    Eat plenty of protein

    Don’t eat right before your appointment if you think you might get nauseous when your blood is drawn.

  4. Mention any blood thinners. If you take blood-thinning medication like heparin or warfarin (Coumadin), tell the phlebotomist before they draw your blood. They’ll want to check that you’ve stopped bleeding before you leave the lab.

  5. Think you might faint? Be honest with your nurse or phlebotomist. If you’ve fainted during blood draws in the past, speak up. The person drawing your blood can have you lie down or position you differently to reduce your risk of falling.

  6. Ask for a smaller needle. If you have trouble getting a good stick during blood draws, ask your phlebotomist to use a thin butterfly needle.

  7. Take a deep breath and relax.  If you’re anxious about your test, take deep breaths. You can also ask the person drawing your blood to explain what they’re doing. Uncertainty can be stressful. “The calmer you are, the easier the draw will be, and the quicker you’ll be out of there,” Dr. de Ridder notes.

  8. Don’t look. If getting blood taken makes you queasy, don’t look at the needle during your draw. Read, look at your phone — or chat with your phlebotomist. Most professionals who draw blood understand that it can be difficult for some people. They’re usually experts at distraction and can put you at ease. 

  9. Reward yourself with a snack.  After your bloodwork, eat something small to keep your blood sugar up. Not sure what to have? Consider munching on:

    •    Granola bars
    •    Nuts
    •    Fruit

Bring your snack to your appointment so you can enjoy it as soon as you’re done.

And, if you’re wondering about that bandage, you can take it off in an hour. If bleeding starts up again, apply slight pressure until it stops and put on another bandage. Don’t worry if some bruising happens. It’s normal and should go away after a few days.

Just walk right in, no appointment necessary

Having your blood drawn at Geisinger Medical Laboratories is quick and easy. And many of our labs are open early or on weekends to make it easier for you to get the tests you need. Find a location near you today.

Want to view your lab test results?

You can view most Geisinger test and lab results on-the-go with the MyChart mobile app or at home with MyGeisinger. Learn more about MyGeisinger and sign up today.

Next steps:

Meet Gustaaf de Ridder, MD, PhD
Learn about laboratory services at Geisinger
Yes, you need a primary care physician. Here’s why.

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