Is it safe to donate blood?
Though donating blood has some merits such as saving more than one lives, it also goes with some drawbacks. According to the American Red Cross, about 36,000 pints of blood are required every day in the United States, and 6.8 million people donate yearly.
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Some minor side effects that could occur after donating blood include include pain, bruising, physical weakness, continued bleeding, lightheadedness, and nausea.
Though it is safe to donate blood, there are some things you ought to know before you donate.
Disadvantages of Blood donation
Blood donation goes with some pain. You may not feel any pain while the blood is being drawn, but you may experience pain when the needle is inserted into your arm and pain at the insertion site. If you experience soreness or aching after your donation, take a pain reliever that contains acetaminophen under a doctor’s supervision.
You may have to sit or lie on a reclining chair with your arm extended on an armrest while you donate blood. A doctor will place a blood pressure cuff around your upper arm to fill your veins with more blood. The doctor will insert a sterile needle attached to a plastic tube blood bag into one of your veins after cleaning the skin on the inside of one of your elbows. The needle is kept in your arm for the duration of your blood donation.
There’s a chance that some bruising will occur when a needle pricks a vein. Mild to moderate bruising is usually not serious. However, if you experience bruising, apply a cold pack to the bruised area every few hours for several minutes during the first 24 hours after blood donation.
You may likely experience some physical weakness, which may mostly be felt in the arm into which the needle was injected. You may be advised to avoid extreme physical activity or heavy lifting for five hours after you donate blood.
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Dizziness and nausea
You will have to sit in an observation area for 15 minutes after you finish donating blood. During this period of rest, you can drink fluids like water or fruit juice and eat a light snack so as to ease some of the dizziness and nausea that are associated with blood donation.
If you still feel dizzy or nauseous after your rest period, you can lie down with your feet up until you begin to feel better. If you continue to experience these symptoms, call your blood donation center.
At the end of blood donation, the needle will be removed from your vein and a bandage will be placed over the needle site which you may be instructed to leave on for at least 4-5 hours. The bandage is supposed to stop the blood flow out of your vein.
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However, there are times that bleeding can still occurs after the bandage and dressing are kept in place for several hours. In this case, it’s important to place pressure on the needle site and keep your arm raised above your heart for three to five minutes. Consult your doctor immediately if the bleeding persists.
The process of donating blood can be a time-consuming. It can take about an hour and 15 minutes, from the time you arrive to the time you leave. This is because there would be some testing, paperwork, physical exam, and initial finger prick blood test. Afterward, you’ll need to sit for a 15-minute rest period. However, the blood-drawing process itself only takes only about 10 minutes.
However, donating blood is noble
Blood donation may cause some minor side effects, but it is a very noble, helpful, and gallant act that can save lives. In a nutshell, the merit of donating blood surpasses the demerits. Someone needs blood every seconds. So don’t allow the disadvantages to discourage you from helping someone out there.
The most preferred donors are people with type O blood, called the “universal donors.” This is because their blood can be matched with those belonging to any of the four blood types: A, B, AB, and O.