Benefits of blood donation: Side Effects, Advantages, and More

By Dr. Divya Mandial | 13th Jun 2023

Benefits of blood donation: Side Effects, Advantages, and More

Blood donation is a precious and life-saving gift we can offer others. Even though our contribution may appear small, it plays a vital role in saving lives. It helps in situations like accidents, surgeries, and complications during pregnancy. Medical conditions such as thalassemia, leukaemia, sickle cell disease, aplastic anaemia, bleeding disorders, and certain types of cancer also need blood for treatment.
Your donation could be the lifeline for someone in a critical situation. Regular blood donation ensures that blood banks are well-stocked. They meet the immediate needs of those affected by such events.
While this generous act provides hope to individuals in critical situations. It also benefits the health of those who donate blood. It’s true! When you donate blood, you impact someone else’s life and get some incredible health advantages.

What are the health benefits of Blood Donation?

Your selfless act of donating blood can impact your health. The many benefits of blood donation on your health include:

1. Improving and lowering the risk of heart diseases

Regular blood donation can improve and lowers the risk of cardiovascular health. It reduces the viscosity of blood and promotes better blood flow. When the blood flow is better, it prevents the formation of blood clots. It reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It also improves your lipid profile by eliminating LDL or bad cholesterol from the blood.

2. Reducing blood pressure

Blood donation reduces the risk of hypertension. When you donate blood, a certain volume of blood exits your body. The reduction in blood volume leads to a decrease in the total amount of fluid in circulation. Blood donation helps maintain a healthy fluid balance in the body. Further, blood donation also helps maintain a healthy fluid balance.

Read more- Ayurvedic medicinal herbs to control hypertension

3. Reducing the risk of cancer

Blood donation can lower the risk of liver, lung, and colorectal cancer. High iron levels can increase oxidative stress in the body, damaging cells and DNA. It contributes to cancer development. Donating blood can help decrease the amount of iron stored in the body. It lowers the levels of oxidative stress. Reducing iron and oxidative stress can help lower the risk of developing cancer.

Read more- Stages of Cancer and Treatments For Different Stages

4. Aiding weight loss

Donating blood burns approximately 650 calories per donation, aiding in weight loss efforts. While it’s important to maintain an exercise routine and eat a balanced diet. Blood donation can be a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle.

5. Therapy for Hemochromatosis (Excess Iron)

Hemochromatosis is a condition characterised by excess iron accumulation in the body. Donating blood regularly can help people with hemochromatosis. It keeps their iron levels in check. Each time someone donates blood, a certain amount of iron is taken out of their body. This helps lower the chances of problems that can occur when there is too much iron in the body.

6. Enhancing blood flow and iron levels

Blood donation stimulates the body to produce fresh, healthy blood cells. The process improves blood flow to circulate oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. Moreover, it helps maintain balanced iron levels in your body.

7. New blood cell production

When we donate blood, our body replenishes the lost blood cells. The bone marrow produces new and fresh blood cells. It ensures a healthy blood supply for the donor and the recipient.

8. Blood donation benefits skin

Blood donation can also reduce skin-related disorders. It improves blood flow to promote healthy skin, reducing acne and other skin problems.

9. Free health screening

One of the most remarkable benefits of blood donation is the free health checkup. Before donating blood, you undergo a health checkup. It includes your blood pressure, haemoglobin, and infectious disease screening. It is a good opportunity to check your health and detect any underlying conditions.

What are the side effects and risks of donating blood?

Blood donation centres prioritise donor safety. All necessary precautions are taken to minimise risks and ensure a positive donation. The majority of individuals donate blood without experiencing any adverse effects. The blood donation side effects and risks are generally mild and temporary. These include:

1. Fatigue and dizziness

It’s common to experience some fatigue and dizziness after donating blood. It occurs due to a temporary decrease in blood volume. Most individuals recover from these effects within a few hours. Resting, staying hydrated, and eating a light snack can help reduce these symptoms.

2. Bruising and soreness at the donation site

Bruising and soreness can occur at the needle insertion site after donating blood. It is a normal reaction and usually resolves within a few days. Applying a cold compress and avoiding rubbing the area can reduce the discomfort.

3. Iron Deficiency

Regular blood donation may decrease iron levels in the body. It can lead to iron deficiency. To minimise this risk, maintain a balanced diet rich in iron-rich foods and iron supplements. It can help restore iron levels in the body.

Who can donate blood?

Individuals with good physical and mental health can volunteer for blood donation. They should not have acute or chronic illnesses that could worsen after donation. According to WHO, an individual must meet the following eligibility criteria to volunteer blood donation:

  • You must be 18 yrs – 65 yrs of age. Your weight to donate blood must be around 50 kgs.
  • You must have stable blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature at the time of donation.
  • You must be free of any acute illness or infection at the time of donation. Yet, there are some medical conditions when blood donation is still possible.
  • Seasonal allergies without severe symptoms.
  • 24 hours following your antibiotic intake.
  • 48 hours following your cold or flu got better.
  • Patients with diabetes and hypertension with normal pulse, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels.

The professionals at blood donation sites confirm your eligibility before taking blood. It is important that you inform them about any medical condition.

People who have diseases like AIDS, hepatitis B or C, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis cannot donate blood. It is because there is a risk of passing on these infections through their blood. Additionally, if you have severe heart disease, uncontrolled diabetes, or cancer, you are not eligible to donate blood. Other factors that make you ineligible for blood donation include:

  • Your body temperature is above 99.5 ºF.
  • Your weight to donate blood must not be below 45 kg.
  • Your haemoglobin level is less than 12.5 g/dL
  • You have an active bacterial or viral infection, such as flu, cold, or COVID-19.
  • You have recently visited regions with high malaria, dengue or Zika virus.
  • If you take antibiotics and medications to prevent blood clots and inhibit your immunity.
  • Pregnancy or lactation
  • If you have taken treatment for malaria in the last 3 months
  • Addicted to recreational drugs
  • If your tattoo/piercing is less than 3 months
  • If you engage in unprotected sex or share needles.

Who can donate blood to whom?

The compatibility between the donor and recipient blood groups is most important. Here is a general guide to blood group compatibility for donation:

  • Individuals with Blood type A+ can donate blood to individuals with A+, AB+.
  • Individuals with blood type A- can donate to individuals with A+, A-, AB+, AB-.
  • An individual with blood type B+ can donate to individuals with B+, AB+
  • Individuals with blood type B- can donate to individuals with B+, B-, AB+, AB-.
  • An individual with blood type AB+ can donate to individuals with AB+.
  • Individuals with blood type AB- can donate to individuals with AB+, AB-, A+, A-.
  • Individuals with blood type O+ (universal donor) can donate to individuals with A+, B+, AB+, O+.
  • Individuals with blood type O- (universal donor) can donate to individuals with A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, O-.

The final compatibility during the screening and blood group matching process is done by a doctor.

How to donate blood?

If you wish to donate blood, look for a reputable blood donation centre or a blood drive nearby. Hospitals, blood banks, and Red Cross often holds blood donation camps. Go through their websites and social media platforms for information on upcoming drives.
You complete a registration form at the donation centre or blood donation camp. The registration form collects basic information about you, such as your name, contact details, and medical history. Then a trained healthcare professional performs your Screening. It includes reviewing your medical history, and checking if you meet the eligibility criteria. Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and haemoglobin levels are also recorded. If you are eligible, the blood donation procedure begins. The blood donation process consists of the following steps:

  • You sit or lie down in a comfortable chair.
  • The healthcare professional sterilizes the area on your arm, usually the inner elbow.
  • Then a sterile needle is inserted into a vein in your arm. You can experience a little pinch or mild discomfort.
  • As the donation begins, blood will flow from your arm into a collection bag or container. The process takes about 10 minutes. You can relax in the meantime.

What should you avoid before donating blood?

Before blood donation, it is important to avoid certain things. It ensures a safe and successful donation. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Avoid consuming alcohol for at least 24 hours before donating blood.
  • Avoid medications such as Aspirin. Also, inform the blood donation centre about any medications you are taking.
  • Avoid consuming fried food before donation, as it can affect your blood lipid profile.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before donation to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive tea, coffee and soft drinks intake, as it can dehydrate you.

What to do after donating blood?

If you plan to donate blood, know the tips to ensure your safety and aid the recovery process. Here’s a guide on what to take care of after donating blood:

  • Leave the bandage on the needle insertion site for a few hours.
  • Apply pressure to the site with the bandage to prevent bleeding and aid in healing.
  • Rest for a while at the donation site immediately after donating blood. It allows your body to adjust and recover from the donation process.
  • Have plenty of water or juice, to replenish the lost fluids and help your body recover. Staying hydrated is essential after blood donation.
  • Enjoy a light snack or refreshment provided by the donation centre. It helps restore your energy levels and prevents dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Avoid strenuous activities for the rest of the day to prevent excessive strain.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol for at least 24 hours after blood donation. Alcohol can affect blood circulation and may interfere with the recovery process.
  • Have foods rich in iron, vitamin C, protein, and leafy greens into your diet to recover from the blood loss.
  • Follow the specific instructions provided by the healthcare professionals at the donation centre.
  • If you experience dizziness, nausea, or excessive bleeding at the needle insertion site. Inform the donation centre immediately.

Takeaway

Blood donation can save lives and support medical treatments. It provides a lifeline to those in need. In light of the above facts, the health benefits of blood donation to the donor seem considerable. It can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is also a complementary approach to losing weight. Individuals with high cholesterol can manage their cholesterol levels by donating blood. You can also maintain good skin health by donating blood often. It’s time to step out and donate blood and encourage everyone around you to donate blood.

Disclaimer: The information given in this article is true to our best knowledge. Still, we recommend you consult your doctor or health care professionals at the donation centres if you have any concerns about donating blood.

References

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