There are many questions a person has in their mind regarding their recovery after donating blood. Most of the blood donors can return to their daily activities after some hours of donating blood. However, there are some ways where you can help your body recover faster and better after donating blood.
For example, there are certain drinks and foods that help with recovery after donating blood. Similarly, there are certain activities that a blood donor needs to avoid immediately after donating blood.
We will discuss about the duration of the recovery after donating blood and what things to avoid, the potential adverse effects, and when you need to seek medical attention after blood donation.
The Average Recovery Time After Donating Blood
Blood donors should follow a healthy diet to recover quickly and it should consist of leafy green vegetables. The leafy greens contain iron in them and it helps in faster and better recovery after donating blood.
A person donates whole blood in a standard donation that comprises of white cells, red cells, plasma and platelets. After whole blood donation, the donor is asked to sit and relax for around 10 to 15 minutes to counter any after affects. The donor may be given some juice, water or snacks for preventing any dizziness or fatigue. If after the allotted time, the donor feels okay, then they can return to their daily activities usually in few hours.
Even though the human body produces about 2 million red blood cells each second, it can take some few weeks to replace the blood donated. So, some donors can feel can feel some effects from the lack of blood.
A donor should wait a couple of months between two blood donations so that their body has sufficient time to recover.
Someone in the United States requires blood about every 2 seconds; however, the supplies are less due to the ongoing pandemic
Foods to Eat For Better Recovery After Donating Blood
Donating your blood reduces the amount of vital nutrients present in the body. However, by consumption of certain drinks and foods, the body can recover easily after blood donation.
Some of the things needed for faster recovery from blood donation are:
Iron-Rich Foods for Better Recovery after Blood Donation
Iron is present in our blood and after each donation; there may be a loss of 200 to 250 mg of iron. So, consumption of iron-rich foods is important to replenish the levels of iron in the blood. Some of the foods, which are rich in iron, are: leafy greens, such as spinach, red meat, fortified cereals, broccoli etc.
Vitamin C is also important after blood donation, as it helps with the absorption of iron by the body. So, along with iron rich food, it is a good idea to consume foods rich in vitamin C like orange juice, Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits, tomatoes and bell peppers. Someone who is a frequent blood donor can benefit by taking an iron supplement.
Liquids/Beverages for Recovering After Blood Donation
Donating blood is a process, which leads to reduction in the body fluids. These lost fluids can be replenished by drinking lots of water, juices, broth, soups and even herbal tea.
According to The American Red Cross, drinking an extra 32 ounces or four glasses of liquid in the initial 24 hours after donating blood is highly recommended.
B Vitamins to the Rescue
Just Like iron, the group of B vitamins, such as B-2, B-6, and B-9, assist in production of new red blood cells. Dietary sources of vitamin B are: dairy products, leafy greens, liver, bananas, potatoes, orange juice and fortified breakfast cereals.
Taking a vitamin B supplement is beneficial and recommended to blood donors who are vegan or vegetarian.
Things to Avoid After Donating Blood
Blood donation commonly does not affect the donor’s daily activities. However, donating blood can restrict what a donor can do immediately after donating blood.
As there is reduction in red blood cells after donating blood, it means there is less amount of oxygen circulating throughout the body. This means that after donating blood, the person should avoid engaging in any type of strenuous activities such as: heavy lifting, manual labor and cardio exercises. After donating blood it is best to avoid activities that increase your heart rate for a day or two. Exercises and heavy lifting can be started slowly after donating blood. The blood donor should take it easy when it comes to these physical activities. Slow return prevents adverse effects from the blood loss after blood donation.
Another important thing is to avoid alcohol consumption for at least the initial 24 hours after donating blood.
What are the Adverse Effects of Blood Donation?
Not everyone feels these adverse effects, but these include:
Lightheadedness or Dizziness after Donating Blood
A few of the blood donors can feel lightheaded or dizzy after donating blood. This occurs as result of reduced blood volume in the body, which causes a temporary decrease in the blood pressure. Drinking extra water or fluids before donating blood helps in combating this adverse effect of blood donation.
If you feel dizzy after donating blood, then relax and lie down till the feeling passes. Breathe deeply and slowly while raising your feet above your heart level to help with the dizziness.
Soreness and Bruising After Blood Donation
There are a few people who can experience some bruising in the area around the site of needle insertion. The reason for this is occurrence of bleeding from the tissue under the skin after the blood donation. Cold compresses help if there is discomfort with the bruising. Over-the-counter pain medications also help.
Note: Aspirin should be avoided for about 48 hours before donating platelets.
Bleeding After Donating Blood
After donating blood, the technician will apply a bandage over site of needle insertion. Gentle pressure is also applied to help with clotting of the blood and to help with the healing.
In case the blood is not clotting quickly, then the donor is told to rest and told to keep the bandage on to prevent bleeding. The use of the arm from where the blood was taken should also be avoided. In case of bleeding from the needle site, gentle pressure application with raising the arm above the head for around 5 minutes is recommended until there is no bleeding. After the bleeding stops, the bandage is removed and the area is gently washed using soap and water.
Fatigue After Donating Blood
Some fatigue is perfectly normal after you donate blood; some people experience fatigue more than others. If you are feeling tired after blood donation, then you should rest till you feel better. Drinking plenty of fluids and replenishing the lost minerals and vitamins help with the fatigue after blood donation.
When to Seek Medical Attention after Blood Donation?
Any adverse effects a donor experiences after donating blood will be mild and temporary. If these adverse effects persist, then it is time to seek your doctor. Some of these adverse effects can be:
- Bleeding from the site of blood donation, which cannot be controlled.
- Persistent dizziness and fatigue.
- Tingling, pain, numbness in the arm.
- Abrupt symptoms indicative of bacterial infection, such as swelling or a fever.
Long Term Adverse Effects Of Blood Donation That Need Medical Attention
There are some health problems that can prevent a person from donating blood and makes it unsafe for blood donation. If you have donated blood and you are having the following symptoms, then contact your doctor immediately:
- Development of high fever, cold or cough within a month of donating blood.
- Development of hepatitis, jaundice, malaria or tuberculosis within 3 months of blood donation.
Donating blood is a great way to help people in need, especially in this pandemic. A blood donor can resume their daily activities within a few hours of blood donation. There are very few or mild aftereffects of blood donation and most of them are not felt by many. To help counter these aftereffects and to help the recovery process of your body after donating blood, one should take rest immediately after donating, drink plenty of fluids before and after blood donations, eat foods rich in iron and vitamins B and C; and avoiding strenuous activities. If there are persistent after effects after donating blood, then contact your donation center or your doctor immediately.