What To Expect When Getting A Blood Test

As a self-confessed hemophobic, I can attest to the fear that arises when scheduled for a blood test. In some cases, hemophobia is combined with a fear known as trypanophobia (fear of needles) which can turn even the most routine of medical visits like blood work into a full blown panic attack. 

Misconceptions about the procedure or horror stories from friends and family can create a lot of stress on individuals who have these fears. A blood test is a very simple procedure but for many adults, there is a struggle in making and keeping this appointment when it is recommended by a doctor. After all, for most people, it is not like when they were children and had mom or dad drive them to the doctor. As an adult, you can simply choose not to go which of course can lead to a myriad of health risks that could easily be detected or prevented by simple blood work. While there aren’t “cures” for phobias, there are still many ways to overcome them. Knowing what to expect and gaining a greater knowledge on the procedure can make getting a blood test a much less anxious event. Whether you suffer from the afflictions described or just want a little more information on an upcoming blood test, the information below should help.

Before the Test

Before taking a blood test, you may be required to make special preparations such as fasting for 8-12 hours. Other tests may not require anything from you aside from showing up. If you are having problems with that last task, have a friend or family member accompany you. Doing so will give you added comfort if you are feeling anxious or scared about what is about to occur. The nurse or phlebotomist will usually explain what is about to happen. For those who get blood work more frequently, this may seem unnecessary. For others, this can serve as a helpful and calming tool.

During the Test

A blood test is a very quick and nearly pain free procedure that is often over before you know it. The nurse or phlebotomist will be taking a certain amount of blood so that it can be sent for analysis. To do this they usually start with a tourniquet placed around your arm. It should be tight around the arm but in no way painful. This is done so the person performing the test can find the vein more efficiently to insert the needle. When the needle is inserted, you will feel a slight prick that can be painful for a moment but the pain should fade quickly. If you do suffer from the above phobias, it may be best not to look during the insertion of the needle or drawing of the blood. Choosing to focus on your accompanying friend or even a fixed point in the room can help a great deal. The blood will be drawn from the needle into a syringe until they have collected enough for their analysis. They will then place a cotton swab over your arm to quell the bleeding. Now is an excellent time to pick out your favorite cartoon band-aid to complete the test. There are usually generic band aids for those who aren’t big kids at heart.

After the Test

For a short while after the test, your arm may feel tender or sensitive, and some light bruising may occur. This is nothing to be concerned about and should pass quickly. Many people are so anxious before having blood work done that afterwards they experience feelings of lightheadedness or even faint. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it may be best to lie down for a short while or have a small snack or drink. These feelings are another reason having someone tag along with you is strongly recommended. Having a friend or family member drive you to and from the testing facility is an excellent way to get home safely.


Brian Levesque is a resident of Orlando who freelances in his off hours about a wide variety of topics in the healthcare industry – relating a combination of research and personal experience to help alleviate common phobias. His full-time job is in recruitment, and for pre-employment drug screenings and physicals he highly recommends the services of WorkFlow Orlando. You can learn more about Brian by visiting Google+.

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