Are your veins shot from chemo? Are you tired of being a human pin cushion? What can you do to get juicier veins for easier blood draws and IV sticks? I recently called the 24 hour-nurse line at my insurance company, United Healthcare, and talked to a friendly nurse about how I could make it easier when they are digging for a vein. She gave me the following ideas:
1. Experience. It is your right to ask for the most experienced nurse or phlebotomist on duty.
2. Gravity. Keep your arms dangling at your side, rather than in a raised position, to encourage blood flow to the veins.
3. Hydration. Unless you are on a no water restriction, drink a lot of water the day before and the day of your stick to plump up your veins. (Don’t be extreme though; too much water can have drastic, negative effects on your body. 48-64 ounces over the course of a day is often recommended). If you are on a no water restriction, be sure that you are adequately hydrated up to the time your restriction kicks in.
4. Caffeine. Stay away from coffee and caffeine, which deplete the water in your body and keep your veins from being their juiciest.
5. Warmth. Because cold can constrict blood vessels, for five minutes before the stick, use a warm, moist cloth on the area where they intend to try the needle.
6. Butterfly. Ask the nurse or phlebotomist if they can use the smallest needle possible that is appropriate for the type of test or procedure you are having. Particular blood tests call for specific needle types. For example, butterfly needles, while very tiny, cannot be used for red blood counts because they break up red blood cells.
7. Doc talk. Talk to your doc to make sure your weak veins are not the symptom of another health condition that should be checked out. Plus, if needle sticks are a perpetual problem, before a procedure, ask your ordering physician to intervene and write into the order a request for a particular nurse they know will get the job done right.
My inner lawyer feels the need to remind you that I’m not a doctor or nurse, and do not intend this information as medical advice. Always consult to your licensed medical practitioner before trying any of the above steps, or before proceeding with any other health related tips you read online.
Do nurses have a hard time finding your veins? If so, has it created anxiety for you? How have you dealt with it? Would it be easier if Heidi Klum were you nurse?