Is It Normal to Feel Sick During a Blood Draw?

Is It Normal to Feel Sick During a Blood Draw?

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*

The process of drawing blood, 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 that 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 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 calm down. 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.

Thankfully, 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.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: April 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
OrganizationAmerican Medical Association (AMA) The AMA has made a commitment to medicine by making doctors more accessible to their patients. Contact the AMA at: American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 464-5000
Web SiteAmerican Association of Blood Banks This site of the American Association of Blood Banks describes blood banking and transfusions.
Web SiteLab Tests Online This non-commercial site was developed by laboratory professionals to educate caregivers, patients, and patients' families about lab tests.
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