Donating blood is an important way to give back to your community. If you take the time to donate blood, you can help save more than one life. In fact, the medical experts estimate about three lives can be saved when you donate blood. Blood is in constant need. Within the United States blood transfusions take place every two seconds, which is why it is important to continuously donate.
Why three lives, you ask. The number is considered an average based on the process your blood goes through after you donate. Those one-unit donations (about one pint) are divided into four products, red blood cells, plasma, white blood cells and platelets. Since it is rare that a patient receiving blood requires all four components, your donation can go to various patients and save more lives.
Advantages of Donating Blood
Donating blood is not only beneficial to recipients, but it also has several advantages for the donor. Among the benefits, blood donations can help reduce your blood pressure, benefit your overall physical health, and help improve your mental health.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Donating blood has been found to help reduce blood pressure. This is one reason donating blood has been found to help lower the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes among frequent donors. There are lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in those who donate, as well, which can protect donors against cardiovascular disease.
Free Check Up
When you donate blood you are required to go through a health screening. A health professional reviews things like your blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin levels, and pulse. This is a free health checkup, which can help you manage your physical health more efficiently. In addition, the blood you donate will be sent in for analysis, so you get a free blood screening, too, and possibly early detection of a medical condition.
Donating blood can help improve your overall mental well-being. By acting selflessly and donating blood to help save a life you can feel a sense of belonging and purpose. It can help reduce negative feelings and make you feel less isolated.
Disadvantages of Donating Blood
Donating blood is a safe process and involves a trusted procedure that is done tens of thousands of times each day. Blood donation has more advantages than disadvantages, but every medical procedure carries some risk, even a small one. Blood donation can be take up to at least an hour for the entire process, so inconvenience could be on the list. (However, the actual blood donation happens within ten minutes.) Also, the process of donating blood can leave you with bruising, pain, weakness, continued bleeding, or dizziness and nausea.
It is quite common to experience bruising when you donate blood. When the needle is inserted into one of your veins to collect blood it tends to leave the area a little bruised. Bruises vary in color and size. Yellow, blue, or even purple bruises are nothing to worry about. You can easily treat the bruises by placing an ice pack on the bruised area.
A needle inserted into your arm can be painless or you can feel a sharp pinch. Once the needle is in place, however, the process of taking blood is not painful, but the needle can cause slight discomfort for some people. It is also possible to feel a bit sore after donating blood, especially if you experience bruising.
After donating blood it is possible to feel weak. Your arm used for donating is more likely to experience weakness because that is the site where blood is drawn. It is important to not exercise or do any intense physical activity for a few hours after you donate blood.
If you experience continued bleeding after removing the needle, put pressure on the site that is bleeding. Then, keep your arm above your heart for a few minutes before releasing the pressure. The pressure should slow down the bleeding. This is why you are told to keep the bandage and dressing around your arm for a few hours so the bleeding will stop. However, if you notice that the bleeding does not stop after applying pressure, speak to your doctor.
Dizziness and Nausea
Once completing your blood donation, you will be instructed to sit in an observation area for about fifteen minutes. During this time, you can drink water or juice, rest, and eat a small snack. This allows your body to recuperate and helps prevent any dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea. If you do experience these side effects long after blood donation, call and speak to your doctor or to someone at the blood donation center.
If you are interested in donating your blood, contact your local blood donation center to find out the requirements for blood donations.