At least once in your life, you will have to do a blood test. While it is a simple operation, others may be unaware about how to prepare for one.
While the most crucial aspect of preparing for a blood test is to follow your doctor’s recommendations, you should also consider lifestyle adjustments such as sleeping well, staying hydrated, and avoiding certain meals and beverages. In this article, we will discuss the things you must do before, during, and after a blood test.
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What to Prepare a Day Before the Blood Test
Certain blood tests may need you to fast (not eat or drink anything except water) for 9-12 hours beforehand. For instance, your doctor may also advise you to discontinue the use of certain prescription medications.
If your doctor asks you to fast, you should also refrain from smoking, drinking alcohol, chewing gum, and engaging in severe exercise. All of these factors can have an impact on blood test results. On the other hand, if you don’t need to fast, we recommend you to try to limit your intake of alcohol and fatty or rich foods. This will ensure that you are at your best on the day of your appointment.
Beyond diet, you should also get enough sleep. Being well-rested makes it easier to access your veins during the blood draw. If you’re heading to a lab that doesn’t require appointments, you should contact them ahead to find out when they’re least busy so you don’t have to wait in queue.
What Blood Tests May Require Fasting?
If you need to fast before your blood test, your doctor will notify you. Fasting is usually required for blood tests such as:
- Liver function examinations
- Tests for cholesterol (lipid panels)
- Triglyceride testing
- Glucose testing in the blood
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) testing
- Metabolic panel examinations
What should I do on the day of my blood test?
On the day of your blood test, you should consume plenty of water. Staying hydrated allows more fluid to flow through your veins, making the blood draw easier. Remember, coffee and other caffeinated beverages might dehydrate you so please watch out for that.
In terms of diet, eat breakfast 1-2 hours before the test if you do not need to fast. This can help prevent dizziness during the blood draw. If you’re worried about feeling queasy or sick before your blood test, you can avoid eating soon before it.
Aside from water and food consumption, you should also wear something comfortable. Wear short sleeves underneath any coat to allow better access to your arm. We also recommend you to bring a small snack to your appointment, such as fruit or a protein bar.
What will happen during the blood test?
Drawing blood is simple and usually only takes a few minutes. When you arrive at the lab, the first thing to do is to check in at the front desk for your appointment.
Then, you’ll be asked to wait in the lobby until a technician is ready in the blood draw room. You will be asked to sit in a chair with an armrest by the technician. If you’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt, roll it up past your elbow, then extend your arm in front of you.
Next, the technician will use an antiseptic wipe to clean a tiny area on your arm. In addition, they will wrap an elastic band over your arm – this causes your vein to expand, which makes inserting a needle and drawing blood easier.
After that, the technician may ask you if you can make a fist to stimulate blood flow. The needle will then be carefully inserted into your arm. A minor pricking feeling may occur, but it should not be uncomfortable for the next few seconds. After drawing enough blood, the technician will withdraw the needle and apply a tiny bandage to the region.
If you feel dizzy following your blood draw, please do inform your technician. You can stay in your chair until the dizziness subsides. If you packed a snack and drink, this is an excellent time to eat it. We also recommend drinking water to help alleviate any dizziness you are experiencing.
More importantly, having a minor pain or a small bruise on your arm where the needle was inserted is also possible. Just take note that it should be gone after a few days.
How long should I wait for my blood test results?
The results of many common blood tests can be expected within 24 hours to a few days. This includes the following:
- complete blood count
- basic metabolic panel
- complete metabolic panel
- lipid panel
It may take several weeks to receive the results in some cases. Tests for rare conditions, for example, may take longer because not every laboratory is equipped for specialised testing. Feel free to consult your doctor, clinic, or hospital to follow up on the status of your blood tests.