General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

How can my adult grandson get over his fear of needles?

Asked by YARNLADY (39519 points ) July 11th, 2012

He visited a friend in the hospital last week and passed out in the hallway. Just the smell of a hospital got to him. He used to faint every time his mother or I took him in for his shots.

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24 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Does he want to get over this fear? If not, it’s a moot point.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Pied Pfeffer has a good point. Also, what is his background? If he’s never been around blood it could be an issue. I’ve been stuck so many times it doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe let him see a few people getting blood drawn?

Bellatrix's avatar

It will be difficult. You can’t really suggest he submits to having injections repeatedly to get used to it. Depending on the nurse, they can be unpleasant.

What about hypnosis? Perhaps that would help? Or meditation. So he has a tool to use when he starts to feel anxious.

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creative1's avatar

I never over came my fear of needles or blood but I have now become a phlebotomist… I guess can’t beat them join them

I found that if it wasn’t my own blood or my body getting stuck it wasn’t bad for me.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer @Adirondackwannabe Yes, he suggested this question.

@creative1 Wow, what a surprise.

flo's avatar

@YARNLADY Yesterday, I heard about a new way of getting our shots, so no more needles. I am trying to find the info.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks for the additional information @YARNLADY. In that case, I would encourage him to take it slowly. Do you happen to know someone in the medical field that could work with him on this?

flo's avatar

You probably read all there is to read, I mean Wikihow etc. right?

bookish1's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: If it’s a really deep seated phobia, even increased exposure might not help… I’ve had about 30,000 injections in my life as a low estimate and I am still extremely phobic about needles. The ones I give myself, as well as the ones others give me.

@YARNLADY : I second @Bellatrix‘s advice about taking up meditation to help with the anxiety. But if this is pretty severe and distressing to him, maybe he should look for a therapist who works with phobia-reducing therapies. I wish you both luck !

YARNLADY's avatar

@flo No, I haven’t investigated the internet, he just asked about it today.

creative1's avatar

I was told that hypnosis works for things like this but I never really tried it to say it works

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@YARNLADY I don’t know what to tell you. I watch sometimes, or look away sometimes, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. The last one was completely pain free, the time before hurt like hell. It’s in his head that makes him faint, maybe discuss that with him. Life is pain, in some form or another, maybe that’s what he needs to deal with. Life is also love, just so I’m not a total downer. :)

JLeslie's avatar

I must watch. I need to know when they are going to stick me if I am not able to see. It is only the first second you feel a little stick and I need to know to brace myself, even though typically the pain is very minimal. I have always been very good about getting a shot, even as a child, but I was freaked about having blood drawn from my arm. I’m over that now, but it took a while. If getting blood drawn is the problem I advise having them always use a butterfly and as small a gauge as possible. If you notice the phlebometist frequently needs to pull the needle back out a little to get the blood to flow, she is sticking too deep. That can prolongue the discomfort. Some people have much thinner skin than others, I have very thin skin, this happens to me about 25% of the time. Someone once told me caucasian skin is usually much thinner than darker skin, I don’t know if that is true.

You can use a topical anesthetic, which should make it almost completely painless.

The more he does it, the less afraid he will probably be. He could practice on himself with sub q needles with saline I guess. Or, even empty.

Buttonstc's avatar

There is a process called systematic desensitization. Everything is broken down into tiny little steps based upon a hierarchy of fear and then it’s literally one step at a time combined with relaxation techniques.

I went through this myself about 25 years ago and it worked. The entire thing from start to finish took about three months or so of weekly meetings.

Because his phobia is so specifically medical, it’s not too amendble to a DIY approach (like fear of heights or elevators or something more accessible to the average person).

Behavioral therapists are the ones who handle this process. If finances are tight, you could try calling around to medical schools to see if there are ant Psych Residents who would welcome a willing participant for them to learn the technique.

That’s what worked for me. He was a third year resident and he literally followed the steps from a book. I really had little confidence that it would work when he first suggested this to me. But I figured I had nothing to lose. It would either work or it wouldn’t. And it did.

flo's avatar

@YARNLADY I’m still looking. I would go with the meditation too though.

Speaking of fainting, someone was telling me they heard on either “This American Life” or something similar, (from a few days ago) where this man was talking about his episodes of fainting and temporary paralysis? whenever he experienced happy emotion. I haven’t heard it yet. It sounds very interesting.

carolinebp's avatar

A fear of needles is surprisingly common, about 22% of adults have needle phobia that interferes with medical treatment. I work for a company that makes a device called Buzzy. Buzzy is a device that combines vibration and an ice pack to confuse nerves and block needle pain. Research has proven Buzzy to reduce needle pain up to 80%. Buzzy has helped a lot of people reduce pain and fear of needles and it sounds like it might be helpful for your grandson. Here is our website for more information, http://www.buzzy4shots.com/ and I wish you and your grandson the very best!

YARNLADY's avatar

@carolinebp Thank you, I sent him the link.

flo's avatar

@carolinebp When was this device invented?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@YARNLADY How is the grandson doing with his needle fear? Any progress?

YARNLADY's avatar

Apparently there has been some progress, since has had at least two visits to Kaiser since he became eligible on his company insurance.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for the update. Is there something in particular that took place to help him get this far?

YARNLADY's avatar

He became worried about his health but doesn’t tell me why. One of the other kids told me he posted a request on Facebook for donations to help him get an operation, but there were no specifics and he took it down the next day. He did not say anything to me about it.

He has a severe spinal curvature which makes him have a humpback appearance, and that might be what he wanted to work on. When he had health coverage and few years ago, I took him to a doctor who suggested he has Marfan’s, based on several indicators, including the fact that his brother seems to have many of the same physical characteristics.

He also joined a volunteer Police group, and they probably require a health clearance.

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