National Voluntary Blood Donation Day 2020: Risk of contracting infections, fainting among five myths busted

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National Voluntary Blood Donation Day 2020: Risk of contracting infections, fainting among five myths busted
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A lot of people are hesitant about donating blood due to a variety of reasons including fear of pain, anaemia or needles and their own beliefs and customs.

Encouraging blood donation. Image courtesy Senior Airman Shane Karp/Wikimedia Commons

On 1 October every year, National Voluntary Blood Donation Day is observed in India since 1975 to encourage healthy people to donate blood. It also seeks to dispel misconceptions related to blood donation and increasing the self-esteem of blood donors by thanking them for their work.

Blood donation is said to be a noble and selfless act. A single blood donation can save up to three lives. But a lot of people are hesitant about donating blood due to a variety of reasons including fear of pain, anaemia or needles and their own beliefs and customs.

However, blood donation is completely safe for healthy adults. Here are five common myths related to blood donation that we need to stop believing:

Myth 1: You will not have enough blood left in your body and may pass out.

Fact: Only about 500 mL of blood is taken from your body when you donate blood. A healthy person has anywhere between 4 to 5 litres of blood in their body. Your body quickly replenishes all the fluids and your haemoglobin levels will likely become normal again within 6 to 12 weeks.

If you do feel faint while donating, experts suggest that it may either be due to dehydration (you did not drink enough water) or if you donated on an empty stomach. So, make sure to take a hearty meal and keep yourself hydrated before you go to donate blood. Also, have a lot of liquids after blood donation to help your body quickly replenish fluids.

Myth 2: You may contract an infection or HIV if you donate blood.

Fact: A new sterile needle is used for every donor and this needle is discarded after use. You won’t be coming in direct contact with an infected person while donating blood, so it is highly unlikely that you will contract an infection.

Myth 3: People with high cholesterol or hypertension cannot donate blood.

Fact: As long as you are otherwise healthy, high cholesterol will not keep you from being able to donate blood. If your blood pressure is below 180/100 before the procedure, you can safely donate blood. If you have either of these health issues and want to donate blood, ask your doctor if there are any safety concerns. However, you can’t donate blood if you have HIV or type 1 diabetes.

Myth 4: Blood donation takes long and it is painful.

Fact: Blood donation only takes about half an hour and a bit more time for filing the form and preliminary checkup. The only pain or tingling sensation you will feel will be when the needle is inserted into your arm and that too will only last for a few seconds.

Myth 5: You cannot donate blood if you are on medications.

Fact: If you are otherwise healthy, being on medications does not necessarily disqualify you from being a blood donor. Inform the blood bank staff about the medicines you are taking and they may tell you if you are eligible for donation or not. You may not be able to donate blood if you have a bacterial, viral or fungal infection or if you are taking medications like blood thinners, steroids or hormones.

For more information, read our article on Blood donation.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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