Health, Physical, Wellness

Are you fit to donate blood? Busting the myths!

First time blood donors always have some inhibitions around their health and safety. While every care is taken to ensure no disease is transmitted, the myths of blood loss remain a constant worry for many. The fear of feeling weak, body not making enough blood and consumption of medicines deter people from donating blood. Here is a comprehensive list of facts associated with blood donation and reasons why blood donation is healthy:

Will my health deteriorate after donating blood?

Certainly not! You do experience weakness for few minutes, but nothing more than that. Drinking liquids post blood donation replaces the loss of fluids. Hence blood donors are given a glass of juice or energy drinks. You recover within a day or two since our body produces new cells at a quicker pace after donation. RBC is replenished within 3-4 days while WBC takes maximum 3 weeks. Health does NOT deteriorate after blood donation.

I would feel weak or faint after blood donation

This is a common misconception.  Have enough fluids after donating blood and a good meal after few hours; you would not feel weak.   
Can I donate blood on empty stomach or immediately after eating?
No you cannot. It is required to have a good meal at least 3 hours prior to blood donation.   

I exercise daily and eat healthily. I can definitely donate blood.

Well, the pre-medical tests should determine that. Being physically healthy may not be enough. The hemoglobin count, HIV, level of sugar, alcohol, medicines if any, diseases etc would govern the rule.

An overweight person has more blood and makes better donor. Lean people are at risk.

Overweight people do NOT have more blood. Every human body would have blood as per the standards of an average human statistics. Being fat or heavy on the contrary are signs of unhealthiness. On the other hand being lean does not mean you are unfit to donate blood. Pre-donation test decides who can donate blood and who can’t. Your body type has no role to play in this.

I have limited blood in the body. Donating some might prove to be unhealthy

About 350-450 ml of blood is permissible during a blood donation session. The human body naturally makes blood and replaces the loss in few days’ time. Donating some blood will not have ill effects. Your body has enough blood even after donating some.     

Blood donation is a painful experience

Not at all! The only pain you may feel is the needle that would prick you. Rest, you would not even come to know. A little redness or soreness may remain, which does not hurt and vanishes in one hour or so.

A non- vegetarian cannot donate blood

Food habits may affect iron, cholesterol or sugar levels in body but not deter you from blood donation. A thorough test is conducted before you give blood. The primary focus is on hemoglobin count which should be 12 plus in an average human body irrespective of your food habit.
I cannot participate in sports or workout after blood donation
It is advisable to take rest and avoid heavy workout, sports or physical activity on the day you donate blood. A little weakness is expected for some time. Your body feels healthy and regains strength the next day.

Blood donation may tell if you are HIV positive

Though the routine test is conducted before taking blood, it does not ensure finding HIV. The reason is HIV antibodies may take more than few months to develop after the virus infects the human body. A person who has recently contracted HIV may show the negative result for HIV test. It is better to not donate blood if you have brushed past HIV recently.

Is donating blood good for your health?

Indeed, in many cases it is. Blood donation reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases since it helps to get your body rid of excess oxidative iron. This reduces your blood viscosity and hence lowers chances of cardiac attacks. Reducing iron through blood donation is also considered to lower chances of cancer and premature aging.

Age factor is a deterrent to blood donation

Anybody aged 17 years to 60 years and in a good state of health can donate blood.

I smoke and hence I not eligible to donate blood

Before you donate blood, you are made to fill a form which asks whether or not you smoke. Smoking is a factor that may bar you from donating blood, though every case differs. You can donate blood if you are 17 years and above with a standard body weight. However, if you smoke, it is advisable not to smoke at least a day before giving blood. You should also wait at least three hours after donating blood lest you should feel dizzy or faint.

Alcohol consumption refrains from blood donation

In case you have consumed alcohol in last 48 hours, you would not be allowed to donate blood.  You can consume alcohol the day after you donate blood.

I am A+ and cannot donate to B+. Or vice versa.

You must know that blood banks always have blood available. The blood bank gives blood to the patient from the bank and asks relatives/caretakers to replace the blood in blood bank. All you need to do is donate your blood, irrespective of any blood group. This replacement process ensures there is enough blood available in the bank in case of emergencies. Also, blood cells or platelets from the donated blood are separated and used when required. So , if the recipient is A+ and you are B negative, you can still donate blood.
We hope the myths and misconceptions around blood donating are clear now. Donating blood is a noble act. Do not refrain from the same. It is a process which helps save a life of a needy and is healthy for your own health as well.

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