The tree is down and ornaments are packed away for another year. Lights no longer illuminate your front porch and shrubs. The decadent meals have transitioned into New Year’s resolutions dedicated to being healthier in 2015. When the holidays are over it can be bittersweet, but there is an important way you can continue with this goodwill all throughout the year.
Did you know that there is a much more urgent need for blood donations in the winter time?
According to the American Red Cross, January was selected as National Volunteer Blood Donor Month because of the urgent need for blood donations during this time of year. January has historically been the most difficult month to recruit volunteers to donate blood due to the cold weather, busy schedules, and increased incidents of illnesses. However, at the same time, January is a dangerous month for accidents caused by icy roads or stressed situations. A lack of blood during this time of year could be devastating for the victims of these accidents.
The amount of blood needed largely depends on the needs of the local community. You can find donations centers in your area here. The Red Cross of Ohio reports that they have already seen a dip in the number of donations that they were expecting for critical patients. Many of the people who would typically donate blood to the Red Cross in that area are reporting flu or cold symptoms which prevent them from donating blood. The Red Cross is asking that people all over the United States take time to donate blood even if they have never considered it before.
When shortages occur, it also means that medical facilities tap into their stores of key blood types like O-negative, A-negative, and B-negative that can be used by more people.
Donating blood while you’re healthy can be a great experience and provide an opportunity to give back to your community and possibly save a life. Your own life could be saved one day by a generous blood donor.
Concerns about donating blood with chronic pain
Will it hurt?
One of the biggest questions when it comes to donating blood is whether or not it will hurt. While we really can’t say that the experience is completely pain-free we can stress that any pain is normally temporary. If you’ve had blood drawn for various medical tests, it is no less unpleasant than that experience. Another concern for many is the feeling of dizziness that may occur after the blood is drawn. This can happen due to a drop in blood pressure. If you are careful to hydrate yourself prior to the donation, you are less likely to experience this side effect. The clinic or Red Cross volunteers will also provide a small snack or juice after the experience to keep you from having a negative reaction. Again, this reaction is generally mild and will pass quickly.
Can I donate?
Of course, not everyone can donate blood. There are several restrictions based on age, weight, medical conditions, and recent travel. In many cases the biggest concern for people dealing with the effects of chronic conditions will be their medications. The most important step you can take before donating blood is to talk to your doctor about your plans and find out if your medications or illness makes you ineligible.
There is very little definitive information on donating blood and chronic pain. However, there are some chronic illnesses that are associated with chronic pain that may prevent your ability to donate blood. This can include issues like a low blood count.
What you can do if you can’t donate
First, determine if your inability to donate is related to a long-term condition or if environmental or medical factors can change. For example, some medications prevent patients from donating blood, such as antibiotics or some pain drugs, but if these are no longer necessary you may be able to qualify for donating again.
Next, if it is determined that you are unable to give blood based on one of the restrictions, there are many opportunities to help the American Red Cross.
The most important non-blood related donation that anyone can make is financial. The Red Cross also suggests the following actions:
- Spread the word to your friends and family who can donate
- Join the Facebook page to participate in community building
- Host a blood drive in your area, your office, or an organization with which you’re involved
- Volunteer to help with blood drives in your community
This January, do what you can to donate blood or promote National Volunteer Blood Donor Month. Spread the word about the urgent need for blood during the winter months. Every pint of blood will go towards saving a life in your community.
We want to hear from you. Have you donated blood while living with the effects of a chronic pain condition? What was your experience?
Image by 1st Air Cavalry Brigade via Flickr