Headache After Blood Draw – Causes & Tips To Help!

Getting a headache after getting your blood drawn is a pretty common side effect. It could also be caused by the vasovagal reaction, the physical response from your nervous system. Maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and avoiding any major physical activities can help you go back to feeling normal. Taking plenty of rest is recommended.

Giving blood samples for some medical tests or donating blood are two ways you will get your blood drawn.

It’s so common that every person gets either of these done at least once in their lifetime. The procedure for it is pretty simple, and it doesn’t feel much when the needle goes in your arm, but the after-effects can be difficult for some.

Most people don’t consider it a pleasant experience and feel a little dizzy afterward. One of the most common issues raised is getting a headache after getting their blood drawn. Let’s look at why this happens first and what you can do to minimize this side effect.

Getting blood drawn

The procedure of getting your blood drawn is called venipuncture or phlebotomy. Usually done for testing suggested by your doctor to determine various medical conditions.

Donating blood takes up to 10 minutes while giving it for a sample takes only a couple of minutes.

Side effects include headache, dizziness, light-head, bleeding, bruising, rash, skin irritation from tape or adhesive from an applied bandage, and soreness. And most of these subside with the next 24 hours of getting your blood drawn as your body recovers.

Vasovagal reaction

A young man is getting blood drawn at a blood donation drive.

Getting your blood drawn can be both physically and mentally draining. Even when you think you’re doing fine, subconsciously, you might not be. You might feel sick to your stomach, known as a vasovagal reaction, a physical response from your nervous system.

You usually feel this when you see the needle, getting your own blood drawn, or just mentally feeling anxious about the whole procedure. This could be one of the reasons for your headache.

Some people feel nauseated, dizzy, start sweating, temporary drop-in heart rate, or blood pressure as with vasovagal reactions. With feeling dizzy, you might experience headaches. So, this reaction might be responsible for that headache you experience.

Headache after blood drawn

This is a common this that happens to most people after getting their blood drawn. It might have a few minimal side effects, but they might experience their side effects on a stronger side for others.

One such side effect is getting a headache. If it’s a light headache you are experiencing, then you don’t need to do anything; it’ll go away soon. But others get an extreme headache. And people also feel light-headedness or dizziness.

How to make the headache go away?

A healthy bowl of salad, nuts, and eggs.

Before drawing blood

You can always do things before getting your blood drawn that can instantly minimize getting a headache afterward. These are not so special but just some things you can easily follow to make the whole procedure smooth:

  • Keep yourself hydrated before getting blood drawn. When you’re hydrated, your blood volume goes up, and your veins are plumper, easier to access.
  • Eat a healthy meal. Have a proper, homemade healthy meal consisting of proteins, whole-grain, and carbohydrates. Food is like fuel to our body, and it will keep you going steady when getting your blood drawn, preventing that light-headedness.
  • Don’t take aspirin for at least two days before getting your blood drawn is donating platelets.

After drawing blood

Even after following all the above things, there is a slight chance you might still experience headaches or dizziness. So, even after you have got your blood drawn, you need to be careful for the next 24 hours. Right after your blood is drawn, follow these easy steps:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat biscuits or cookies, for they have sugar in them.
  • Take a good nap to feel rested and let your body heal for some time.

The doctors and nurses usually provide something to eat and drink after the procedure, so they will probably offer these things to people. You can always tell them if you’re feeling any side effect in severity, and they will surely help you recover from it.

Other tips to follow

Tips to follow after donating blood.

There are other tips you can follow to feel better and calm down after getting your blood drawn:

  • Keep your bandage fixed for the next 6-12 hours.
  • Avoid running or doing heavy physical activities such as working out for the next 24 hours.
  • Have healthy and hearty meals on time.
  • If you have soreness, then apply a pack of ice.
  • Have nuts, fruits, juice in between meals to avoid any dizziness.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Deep breathing techniques may help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can having a blood test gives you a headache?

You might experience a slight headache or dizziness after getting a blood test or blood drawn. Taking rest and having a balanced meal while staying hydrated can be of help. Anemia, leukemia, and infection can also cause headaches.

What are the side effects of getting blood drawn?

Side effects might include bleeding, bruising, light-headedness, rash, skin irritation, or soreness. But these side effects subside quickly over the next day. Avoid doing any strenuous physical activity.

Why does my vein hurt after the blood draw?

Sometimes you might get an inflammation of a vein just below the skin’s surface, called superficial thrombophlebitis, which results from a blood clot. It might be caused after using an IV line or after trauma to the vein. You might have pain and tenderness along the vein and hardening and feeling cord-like.

Is it normal for an arm to hurt after a blood test?

Sometimes you may have a tiny branch of one of the sensory nerves of the arm actually running over the surface of the vein. Rarely, this needle will hit this little nerve on the way into the vein. This may cause a sharp, short electric-shock-type pain.

How long does it take to recover from a blood draw?

According to WHO, bruising after a blood draw typically heals quickly. However, if the bruise is large, it may take up to 2-3 weeks to heal. For any other abnormalities, you should contact your doctor.

To summarize

Getting your blood drawn can be straining for your mind and your body. While nothing major occurs, you should be careful of the typical side effects one faces after getting their blood drawn. One such side effect is getting a headache, which is pretty standard, and nothing to be worried about.

Just like you might get a sore arm, headache or dizziness is pretty standard too. But sometimes, this headache is also a side effect of vasovagal reaction, which is when your nervous systems act up. This is why staying calm during the whole process is very important.

Just doing a few simple things like staying hydrated, having a balanced meal, and avoiding any major physical activities can help you feel back to normal in no time. So, try some breathing exercises and remain calm when getting your blood drawn!