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HATE Needles, Passing Out During Labs..Advice?

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Overall, since my diagnosis, I've been doing really well with HIV. Atripla has worked amazing for me, and I hardly even think about it. It's so easy to tolerate. My problem is not living with HIV, social life, or even meds. As I'm sure everyone who is poz knows, labs are a periodic reality of living with HIV. For me, my doctor usually orders labs done about every 5-6 months or so, or about twice a year, before I have my appointments with her, so she can monitor all my numbers and make sure I'm doing well. Here's my problem. I have a MAJOR fear of getting blood drawn. Like, severely. I'm not an anxious person either, so it sucks. What's odd is that I don'd mind getting shots in the least.

The problem is, whenever I have my blood drawn for labs, going back as long as I can remember, which has been about 3 years, I get really really nauseated, then clammy, then pass out. Initially, it wasn't anxiety-caused, and it didn't even happen every time..But as the incidents of me passing out when getting blood drawn increase, my anxiety and apprehension about having labs done increases. I am filled with dread after I put off having it done for as long as possible, and finally when I do go I'm a nervous wreck.

I am a healthy weight, I don't do drugs or anything bad, and I don't have any known medical problems. I make sure to eat a good meal before each lab. But it's like, after they stick me in my arm, after a few minutes, a physiological reaction happens, beyond my control, and I start getting clammy, sweaty, and pass out, and usually feel like I'm going to throw up..The last time I had labs, I even asked if I could have a private room and lay back on a table before they did it, so I'd be more prepared...And I STILL got sick and nearly passed out! Each time, within like 3-4 minutes though, I'm fine again. Is there ANY way to overcome this? Possibly get the blood drawn from a different part of the body than in the bend of my arm? Maybe having it done there is triggering some weird reaction? At any rate, I am lucky that I don't have any major problems, so this probably seems silly to some, but it really fills me with dread every time I have to have labs done. Any suggestions? Thanks!

It's called a vasovagal response. The vagus nerve sends a signal to open your blood vessels, blood pressure drops, and your brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen and you faint.

Has your phlebotomist or technician/medical assistant ever suggested you lie down when you have your blood drawn?

You and he/she can figure out what will work best for you. Having a cool cloth for your forehead would be nice. You've got four draws a year moving forward so getting a method worked out sooner will reduce your anxiety beforehand.

Thanks, I've heard of that term before. I suspect you may be right about it causing my problem. Because each time I do pass out when I have the blood drawn, it's involuntary, I can't control it, no matter how relaxed I think I am going into it..Last time, I had a private room, and had some juice before, but I don't think I laid down. None of the technicians have suggested I lay down before, but I will request it next time. I also will request a cold rag on the forehead, to see if that helps. I hope I can resolve this, it's just so irritating and embarrassing when it happens.

If they're not suggesting it, and they should be doing everything to prevent your fainting and possibly injuring yourself, then take the reins.

There are other little things you can do like increase your salt intake in advance, tense your muscles (like pilots do when pulling g's on steep ascent) but I think your most conservative and easy prevention is lying down.

I used to have troubles with this-- it is indeed vasovagal response. Here's how I deal with it:

1. Pick something pleasant to look at in the lab (leave needle out of view).. STARE
2. Remember to breathe

Number two is easier said than done, I know.. good lab techs know how to work a patient.. I've had a few tell me to breathe.   :D


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