Medical professionals request several kinds of test. These tests can be carried out with different types of samples like blood, urine, and several others. When your medical professional orders a test that requires taking your blood sample, it could be for several reasons like an evaluation of your internal organs, diagnosing a medical condition, determination of risk factors, monitoring of medication or assessing the blood clotting process.
A blood test is an essential part of health care and, if you have been ordered to get one done, you would have to prepare both physically and mentally to get the test done. Your blood may be drawn in your medical professional’s office or, you may need to go to another laboratory for the blood sample collection.
Preparing physically for a blood test
In preparing physically for your blood test, you need to do the following.
Talk to your doctor
You need to talk to your doctor before your test to know the specific tests required and how to prepare for it to get an accurate result. Some common blood tests that require special preparation include
- Glucose tolerance test– it requires you to fast before the test and, you have to be in the lab for up to 5 hours where your blood would be taken every 30 – 60 minutes.
- Fasting glucose test– it requires you to fast for 8 – 12 hours before the test. You can only drink water during the fasting period. It is best to do this test in the morning.
- Serum lipid test (cholesterol test)- it requires fasting for 9 – 12 hours before the test is carried out.
- Cortisol blood test– it requires avoiding exercise for at least 24 hours before the test. You would have to lie down for 30 minutes before the test and avoid eating or drinking for an hour before the test.
If you are not sure about what to do before your test, ask your doctor for instructions.
Discuss your medications with your doctor
Some medications affect the accuracy of private blood tests in the UK so, you need to discuss with your doctor if you are on recreational drugs, blood thinners, vitamins, over-the-counter medication, and some prescription medication because they can alter the result.
Your doctor is in the right place to tell you if you need to avoid any of these medications for 24 – 48 hours before the test or if the medications will not affect the result.
Avoid certain activities
Some activities can alter the result of some blood tests. Heavy exercises, drinking herbal teas, smoking, and sexual activities need to be avoided before carrying out certain blood tests.
To make the blood collection process easier, ensure you drink a lot of water. This would help dilate your veins. Ensure you warm your extremities where the blood would be drawn. Wearing warm clothes and using a warm compress would also help improve the blood flow in the area the sample would be collected.
If you failed to follow the instructions your doctor gave you, talk to your phlebotomist. If you are allergic to latex, let your phlebotomist know as latex gloves are usually worn during sample collection.
Preparing mentally for a blood test
To prepare mentally for your test that requires blood collection, you should do the following
Stabilise your stress level
When you are nervous about your test, it increases your stress level and been stressed means that your blood pressure increases, which causes your veins to constrict and making the drawing of blood difficult.
If you feel anxious, try deep breathing exercises or repeating a phrase that calms you down. Most people are afraid of needles (belonephobia) and, afraid of all injections (trypanophobia), which causes anxiety, but, you can always get through the process.
Ask about EMLA
If you always feel a lot of pain when your blood sample is collected, you can ask your doctor for EMLA. It is a topical anaesthetic usually used for children. It takes about 45 minutes to 2 hours to work but, in adults, the time may be longer.
You can also ask for any other numbing medication like ‘Numby Stuff’. It is a topical anaesthetic made from a combination of lidocaine, epinephrine, and a mild electrical current to numb an area within 10 minutes.
Understand how the blood is drawn
When you understand how the process works, it will help you feel better. Drawing a blood sample takes about three minutes.
- Your phlebotomist would wear gloves to reduce exposure to blood and then place a plastic band around your arm (or any other area the blood would be drawn from). The elastic band helps to expand the amount of blood in the area and increase the size of the veins to make venous blood collection easier.
- The phlebotomist will disinfect the area using an alcohol-based swab.
- The phlebotomist will insert the needle into your vein to draw the blood. The needle is usually attached to a small tube where the blood would be collected. If more tubes are needed for the collection of blood, the phlebotomist would leave the needle in place and attach another tube.
- Once a sufficient blood sample is taken for your tests, the phlebotomist will remove the needle and place a small gauze over the area, applying a little pressure to stop the flow of blood. You may also need to put a band-aid over the area to stop the bleeding.
Stress reduction techniques
To reduce your stress level caused by anxiety or fear of needles, you should try the following
- Breathe deeply to help you relax
- Accept that you are anxious and work towards controlling it
- Recognise that your mind is playing games on you and the process would not hurt much
- Try asking yourself questions to determine how badly the situation can be. You would see that real answers would reduce your anxiety
- Use positive self-talk to stir yourself out of the fear
After a blood test
- If your test required you to fast, bring a snack and water that you will take after your blood is taken
- Ask questions to know how long you need to wait to get your results
- If you notice a bruise after your blood sample is collected, this is a common side effect and would clear off in no time
You can get your blood tests done at Blood London Clinic. If your medical professional has ordered a blood test near me for you, contact us for your private blood tests in London on 020 71839244 to book an appointment for your test.