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Ltryptophan's avatar

What is the best way for a disease free, healthy person to evaluate the side effects of donating blood?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10285points) February 10th, 2011

I want to donate blood. I’m not chicken. What I know is that I have a tendency to get faint after the blood being drawn.

Also I have a bit of a panic attack issue whenever I drink caffeine. In all likelyhood these are similar activities for the trigger of whatever anxiety I suffer from. Maybe not, and that’s why I’m asking.

This brings me to a bigger picture issue. What if I have an underlying condition that I don’t know about? Will this donation weaken me at a stage when I need all the help I can get.

My pocketbook cannot spare the expense of my poor man’s philanthropy undermining my own health!

I’d love to hear everything you can share on the subject. Within the next two weeks I hope to decide on donating for a someone in need.


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28 Answers

everephebe's avatar

It will kill you dead. Panic now!

Ok, seriously. As someone who has donated blood before, many times, it’s not a big deal. If you have an underlying condition that you don’t know about, they might find it when they test your blood, so you will know about it. Losing a pint of blood or whatever won’t kill you or harm you, unless you’re missing much more already!

Plus they usually provide you with a meal or something after you donate.

Seaofclouds's avatar

When you passed out last time, did you discuss it with them or your doctor? Some people don’t handle the quick blood loss too well and that causes them to get light headed after getting up after the donation.

When I donate blood, I always make sure to eat a substantial meal before going to do the donation. It seems to make a big difference for how I feel afterwards. Then, once I donate blood, I make sure to eat the snacks they provide. I mean actually eat them, not just nibble on one or two cookies and sip on my juice.

Before you donate, they should be checking your hemoglobin level. If it is too low, they won’t let you donate. Once you donate the blood, they test it for many different things. If any of those tests came up with something that would make you ineligible to donate, they would tell you.

WasCy's avatar

Before you’re even allowed to donate blood (via the Red Cross, anyway, which is the only way I’ve ever done it) you’re required to read an information handout that they organizers will give you to read. They’ll be very happy to answer questions that you have, because first-time donors have a lot, and they want to reassure you about any potential or likely concerns.

Feeling faint, whether from the needle stick itself (which is bothersome to some people, though it doesn’t hurt a bit (trust me: I’m a three-gallon donor, one pint at a time, and I don’t like pain) or from the minimal blood loss, is handled by the nurses on the scene. In fact, you will be required to demonstrate “no ill effects” after the donation before you will be allowed to leave.

Plus, there’s free juice and cookies!

JilltheTooth's avatar

Before I had cancer I was coming up on the 3 gallon mark for whole blood (I’m O-), and countless sessions of apheresis (platelet donation). A couple of times I found out my iron was low, that was helpful as I then immediately corrected it. (Yay, blood testers!) Mostly my reactions were a bit of lightheadedness (and they give you cookies for that! Yay, cookies!) and I’d sleep really hard that night and be a bit tired for 24 hours. It’s a good thing to do, and everybody’s nice to you. My Dad used to give blood after a bad day at work because they were all so nice to him, gave him cookies, and treated him like a king.

wilma's avatar

I’m working on five gallons now.
Eat a good meal before you go and do what they tell you as far as waiting there and eating afterward. You will get a mini check-up and that’s always good.
I usually feel tired after I give blood and the rest of the day I try to not do anything too strenuous. By the next day I am feeling better and pretty much back to normal.

It’s a nice thing for you to do, Thanks!

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Seaofclouds I must admit that I had not eaten the morning that the faintness occurred!

Nor did I bring it to the attention of a doctor because I felt that that explained it. I had never had a problem with that situation before, so I felt that it was a non issue.

I’ve had blood tests since, and I am not in bad shape that I know of. A physical probably wouldn’t hurt.

Also, I have intentionally brought myself down to 135 lbs from 155 in the past year, which, based on my BMI at 5’6”, is something I conclude is a very healthy and stable weight. I feel good as ever.

I think I am fit for donation.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yay! Do it! Go get stuck and drained!

blueiiznh's avatar

I have given blood since I was allowed to and have 20 Gallon pins.
If you can survive all the questions they give now, you will survive the process as long as you are reasonably healthy.
I hope you find a way to realize that you can and it will help.

They have great snacks and juice too :D

WestRiverrat's avatar

Eat a good meal about an hour before you give blood. I can no longer give blood, and I actually miss it. Also make sure you are well hydrated before you give.

Dehydration and low blood sugar are the two most common physiological reasons people pass out.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Ltryptophan Sounds like you are good to go! Good luck!

Rarebear's avatar

Just tell the people that you have a tendency to pass out and they’ll just be careful not to sit you up too quickly. I actually tend to get really lightheaded when I give blood also.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Who is the oldest person you know who has always given blood? How old are they (not who)?

Ltryptophan's avatar

The physical act of giving it doesn’t freak me out…It’s all the other thoughts about my “closed” system and taking something out of it.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I certainly would not like to give platelets, if it means I have to have something put back inside me. Once it’s out…I don’t want it back.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I have a serious feeling of superstition about this whole process, and no voodoo to back me up.

JilltheTooth's avatar

My Dad gave blood until he was around 78, then some health issues got in the way.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I swear, somewhere I harbor a suspicion that giving blood will weaken me, and I will fall prey to a disease that’s just lurking, waiting for a moment of weakness to grasp my vitality in its jaws.

Please, free me from such a silly notion!

I like living, but I don’t even take life that seriously! Why the fear?

JilltheTooth's avatar

OK, think of this. When you give blood, your bone marrow kicks into high gear to replace it, which strengthens your bone marrow and you have new, young, strong, clean blood doing all those cool bloody things, better than the old blood did.

faye's avatar

Lots of people donate blood before surgery so they’ll have their own blood to get back. I had to smile at your voodoo comment. I had a vision of myself hanging blood with a chicken bone or feather in my teeth! maybe a chicken bone bracelet so it would rattle as I push buttons on the machine!

WasCy's avatar

Actually, for men, giving blood has a net positive effect in one area that you don’t often think of. Western diets are pretty rich in iron, but unless you’re anemic, most people have an iron surplus: the only way to rid yourself of excess iron is bleeding. For pre-menopausal women this isn’t an issue because of their monthly cycle. For men, the iron just builds up in our systems – which is not healthy. Donating blood allows you to rid yourself of some of your iron surplus with the blood that is taken.

I donated regularly until I was in my early 40s, at which time my length of time spent in Western Europe became “an issue” to the Red Cross, and they no longer wanted my blood. I never felt the least bit weakened, light-headed or dizzy, and I was always able to leave after the minimum recovery time spent, never with any ill effects. I don’t recall blood donations affecting my sleep or next day’s energy levels, either – and this was in the days when I was coaching two youth soccer teams concurrently, so I would have noticed!

wilma's avatar

@Ltryptophan, like @WasCy stated, it can be beneficial to you. I know a man who has to have blood drawn regularly for that reason.

Congratulations @blueiiznh that is wonderful!

RocketGuy's avatar

I have low blood pressure, but have had no ill effects at all after donating. My only problem is that my veins have bad geometry, so need a good nurse/technician to get the needle in correctly.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m going to try again, now that I’ve been cleared, but I worry that chemo screwed up my veins so I’m a little nervous. Blood techs all over the pacific northwest used to laud my fabulous veins…<sigh>

JLeslie's avatar

If you let them know you tend to faint, they will do their best to accomidate you. If you are a woman you might want to have your iron checked (do they do that before people donate automatically? I have no idea? I never donate because my iron level is such a struggle to keep barely at the bottom limits of normal).

Donating blood is a wonderful thing to do! You will be saving someone’s life.

ETpro's avatar

I sometimes feel faiint after giving blood, but only if I try to sit or stand right away. I let them know this, and they keep me seeted with feat elevated for a half hour or so after. They wioll also give me an orange juice to spike up the blood sugar level a bit. Given that, it’s never been a problem. Just talk to the head nurse or clinic supervisor about your concerns before donating, and go with their advice. Check what Wikipedia has to say about it. Pay particular attention to the sections about “Recovery and Time Between Donations” and “Complications.” Happy phlebotomy.

sliceswiththings's avatar

They say you won’t notice the blood missing, but I do. Caffeine and alcohol hit me harder for a couple days, and I get winded more easily. If this happens, it’s not something weird about you, it’s just your missing blood! Take it easy on the substances. I highly recommend donating blood. I always feel so good about myself for doing something good after. And yes, they give you juice and cookies.

ETpro's avatar

@sliceswiththings Good point about the feeling of doing something to help our fellow humans. You may never know it, but that blood donation just may save a life.

RocketGuy's avatar

My daughter needed transfusions the first 2 weeks of her life. Thanks for the donations.

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