Tips to Help You Overcome Needle Phobia

Needle Phobia
With flu season coming up, you might be considering getting the flu jab to protect yourself from the flu.

However, for at least 1 in 10 people1, having an injection is a scary thought but it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve put together our guide on how to overcome your fear of needles, so you can get your flu jab this year.

It’s perfectly normal to be nervous around needles. Many people are uncomfortable when their doctor starts talking about shots, needle sticks, and syringes. It’s important that this fear does not stop you from getting the health care you need, especially if you are prescribed an injection medication. Sometimes injections are a safe way for you to manage many conditions. If you are taking an injection medication, here are some ways you can overcome your fear of injection.

Tips to Help You Overcome Needle Phobia

The following guide provides ideas for both distracting yourself and making the needle as painless as possible, to minimize any negative outcomes or fears from the procedure itself.

Realize it’s a real fear. Although some people have a fear of needles, there are others who have an even more extreme phobia where they may not be able to fathom the experience of having a needle. If you fall into this category, please see a psychologist or someone trained to help with phobias. There are therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that can provide real recovery with the right support.

Remember you can say no. Although there are some needles that are very important in life (especially if you have health issues), there are others which you can refuse if you wish. Do your own research and be aware of alternative ways of tracking health issues other than needles or needles which are routine but may not be needed.

Safety in numbers. Take your friend, husband, or partner with you to the appointment to distract you from the needle.

Entertain with music. Listen to music on your iPod or MP3 rather than concentrating on the procedure at hand.

Stay hydrated. Drink water prior to the appointment to ensure that you are well hydrated and that it’s easier to find and insert a needle into a vein. Hydration makes veins harder to find.

Go horizontal. Ask to lie down, or elevate your legs if possible, in case passing out is a real fear.
Chill out. Take an icepack with you to maintain your cool.

Boost with juice. Bring something to drink like juice to sip on during and afterward in case you feel weak or dizzy.

Numb it. Consider topical creams or an anesthetic to numb the area prior to injection. Remember that although many doctors have numbing creams, they can take 15-30 minutes to work, so make sure you plan ahead.

Keep warm. Make sure you’re warm so you’re not shivering from cold and it’s easier for the needle to go in smoothly.

Bring a comfort item. Have a favorite jacket or blanket? Bring it along for comfort.

Relaxation time. Practice relaxation techniques before and during the event to help stay calm. If you can, try doing some visualization as well.

Pick your spot. Know that a certain area is harder to inject than others? Let your medical professional know so they can find the easiest and least painful spot for the needle.

Speak up. Mention your fear to the doctor or professionals so they can help make the procedure as easy as possible.

Use a Pain Relief Device. Devices such as the lady buzz can help you avoid the sting or pain associated with needles.

Use a relaxing product. You can try having a relaxing tea before you have the needle or try a soothing essential oil.

Hold tight. Ask your friend, husband, or even a staff member to squeeze your hand throughout the procedure and distract you. To help the injection site relax and distract you, they can also slide a finger or hand firmly across any nearby tightened muscles to help them automatically relax.

Swing. Swing your arm around or let it drop down to help gravity push the blood further down your arm for easier vein access.

Ask for a blood pressure cuff instead of the tourniquet. Some women find that, with their medical professional’s consent, the blood pressure cuff can make getting a needle easier.

Remain focused. Focus on an object in the room rather than on the needle.

Get some shut-eye. Close your eyes so you can’t see what is happening.

Just breathe. Breathe slowly and deeply to help calm your nerves. Concentrate on a long out-breath to avoid hyperventilating.

Pump your hand. Pump your hand open and closed for up to 30 seconds to make the veins more visible.

Be rational. Rationalize your fear and remind yourself that you are the one in control of your body.

Focus on the benefits. Contemplate the fact that this needle is necessary for your own health.

Let the rubbing alcohol dry. This can lessen the sting of the needle.

Straighten your arm. Bending your elbow can make it more difficult to insert the needle sometimes and straightening it tightens the skin for easier access.

Sweeten the deal. Reward yourself after the shot to help identify it with a positive experience.

Have a chat. Talk to the person giving you the needle to avoid an awkward silence or worrying too much about the needle. Talk about your favorite things, your life, your hobbies.

Discuss options. Request a butterfly needle, if possible, as they can often reduce discomfort.

One-time offer. Tell the doctor that they have one chance to insert the needle to avoid prolonged unpleasantness.

Professionals only. Refuse to let student doctors or practitioners draw blood or give injections – it’s your legal right to ask for a different care provider if you’re concerned.

Request the best. Ask for an experienced specialist who will be fast and efficient at the task – such as an anesthetist.

Stay warm. Use a warm compress to make it easier and help numb your arm.

Avoid the arm. If possible, ask for blood to be taken from the back of your hand to reduce nausea.

Normalize needles. Know your facts about needles and shots to help make the procedure much more routine.

Be an early bird. Schedule the appointments early on in the day so you don’t spend the whole day working yourself up into a panic.

Avoid empty stomachs. Try to eat before the appointments to avoid lightheadedness. If you’re in labor, don’t forget that drinking and eating is an important part of getting through the marathon your body is experiencing.

Wiggle time. Focus on wiggling your toes – one toe at a time if possible (note it is not possible but it doesn’t hurt you to try).

Wait a moment. Don’t rush out the door as soon as the procedure is over – take some time until you feel you have regained your composure and the adrenaline rush has passed.

Exercise. Walk briskly to the doctor’s office to help get your blood flowing before your appointment.

Bottom line: Needles can be painful. Avoiding them can be detrimental to your health…but there are things that can be done. The key is to be up-front about the fear you may have and address it with your health care professional.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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