A study by the University of Ohio focused on fears that prevent people from donating blood.
Sam Greene, [email protected]

A recent study by psychologists at the University of Ohio discovered the key reason why people fear giving blood.

They are not needles, pain or even the sight of blood.

It is a fear of fainting, although faints rarely occur in blood donation.

Psychologists Christopher France and Janis France asked 1,008 men and women what they feared about donating blood. More than 27 percent of respondents said they feared fainting before the donation. Almost 12 percent of respondents said they feared fainting, dizziness or lightheadedness during or after the donation.

The reality, according to the study published in the medical journal Transfusion, is that less than 4 percent of people faint before a donation, and less than 1 percent faints during or after a donation. According to one study, better public education could allay fears and alleviate the often difficult task of recruiting blood donors.

"The general public has inflated risk expectations of weak reactions prior to blood donation, suggesting that efforts to educate potential donors with accurate information can help reduce this relatively common concern," the authors write. .

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Phlebotomist Calee Downs collects a donation from Anne Saker, an Enquirer reporter, at the Hoxworth Blood Center in the Corryville neighborhood of Cincinnati on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. (Photo: Sam Greene, The Enquirer)

TO The Blood Center in Hoxworth, which collects blood throughout the Cincinnati region, staff members said they see the donors faint. The phlebotomists Lori Gillis and Calee Downs, who work in blood donation campaigns, say that the most susceptible are adolescents and young adults, in secondary schools and universities, who are donating for the first time, often on an empty stomach.

The effect increases, said Gillis and Downs, when a colleague who faints on a blood impulse triggers a chain reaction of others who faint.

Older adults fear fainting, Gillis said, because often the muscles that control the bladder relax and release the contents.

The human body circulates between six and 12 pints of blood, depending on the size of the body. The standard donation of a pint eliminates a significant volume, so a donation ends with a trip to a table to rest and encourage to take free snacks and drinks to energize the body.

Gillis and Downs said that donors can better prepare for a donation by:

  • Eat foods rich in iron, such as lean meat and dark green vegetables.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Sleep well the night before.

Here is an additional benefit to a blood donation: in the following days, your body has to work a little longer and you can burn up to 600 more calories to recover.

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