published Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Ask a doctor: What are some ways I can prepare for my blood donation?

Dr. Liz Culler

Q: I'm interested in donating blood, especially since I've heard fewer blood donations are made during the summer months. What are some ways I can prepare for my blood donation?

A: Thank you for your interest in donating blood. As you noted, fewer donations during the summer can cause critical shortages for local hospitals. You can prepare for your blood donation several days in advance by drinking plenty of water and eating meals rich in iron. It is important you do not skip a meal within 24 hours of your donation. On the day of your donation, continue drinking plenty of water and avoid caffeine. A salty snack is also recommended. During your donation, applied muscle tension (AMT) can prevent you from feeling light-headed or dizzy. AMT is the tightening and releasing of major muscle groups, starting with your upper body, followed by your abdomen, then your legs. Tighten the muscles in one region at a time for five seconds, then relax for five seconds, before moving to the next region. Practice this technique while in the donor chair until you are released to the refreshment area. After your donation, remember your body needs to replenish the fluids lost during your blood donation, so continue to drink fluids and enjoy a snack. Avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting for the remainder of the day. During the summer months, it is also very important to stay in a cool environment before and after donation.

— Dr. Liz Culler, medical director, Blood Assurance; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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