A couple of weeks ago I had some blood work done. I had never had blood drawn before and it made me feel like I might throw up. I think my doctor wants me to repeat the blood test in a few weeks. What can I do so I won't feel sick again? – Jenna*
Getting blood drawn, whether it's for lab work or for a blood donation, can be unsettling for lots of people. Even when we think we aren't nervous or afraid, our bodies might behave otherwise!
The most likely reason you felt sick to your stomach when you had your blood drawn is that your body was having a vasovagal reaction. This is a physical response from your nervous system. It can be triggered by seeing the needle, seeing your own blood, or just feeling anxious about the whole thing.
With vasovagal reactions, some people feel nauseated. Others may feel dizzy, start sweating, look pale, or have a temporary drop in heart rate or blood pressure. Some people will even faint.
The next time you have your blood drawn, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization to help you feel calm. Close your eyes and pretend you're on a sandy beach or somewhere else relaxing. Some people find it's better to look away when having blood drawn so they can't see the needle entering their arm or the blood that flows from it. You also can try to distract yourself by playing music or talking with the technician.
Remember, blood draws don't last long. You'll also probably find that having your blood drawn gets easier every time you have to do it.