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Do Injections Give You The Needle?

Trembling, palpitations, cold sweats, nausea, or even a blood pressure drop: do needles have that effect on you?

You can’t get away from it: blood sugar testing and insulin injections rhyme with needle sticks. Yet, the stress caused by a fear of needles can cause your blood sugar to spike, and on top of all that, your skin’s surface can suddenly become hypersensitive—ouch! What a way to make matters even worse!

Conquering trypanophobia

Trypa… what? Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of needles, more specifically injections.

Know that approximately 10% of the population has needle phobia, or an intense fear of needles and sharp objects. This irrational fear is often acquired at a young age, either following a bad experience or because the child witnessed the negative reaction of a parent or trusted adult. The phobic person therefore associates needles with danger, which is what causes the resulting physical, involuntary reaction—no, it’s not “all in your head”!

That means that watching someone else test their blood sugar or calmly inject their insulin could help you get over this fear, little by little.

Easing the pain

It’s scientifically proven that you can reduce pain by looking elsewhere, so use a lancing device or insulin pen that completely hides the needle.

Other tips

• Pinch the fatty tissue, or use ice, to numb the injection site.

• Prick the side of your finger: there are fewer nerve endings there than on the fleshy, more sensitive tip.

• Don’t reuse needles and lancets: dull equipment will cause you even more pain.

• Since alcohol dries out the skin, making it more sensitive, opt for warm water and soap to clean the injection site.

• Vary the fingers you use. Pick a pattern to ensure you’re not using the same site over and over again. And, if a finger is sore, don’t use it again until it heals. (The advantage of insulin pumps is that you can change the injection site every two-to-three days only.)

• When having blood drawn, tell the medical staff that you’re uncomfortable with needles. If it’s been difficult to find your veins in the past, mention that, too.

Above all, as strong as it is, don’t let your fear hinder your treatments and damage your health!

References:
CHEO, “Needle Fears & Phobia”: http://www.cheo.on.ca/en/needle-phobia. Accessed April 26, 2016.
Diabetes.co.uk, “Needle Phobia – Overcoming Fear of Needles”: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/emotions/needle-phobia.html. Accessed April 21, 2016.
Gary Scheiner, Fight the Phobia! Fear of needles Can be conquered, BD Diabetes Learning Center, March 2007: http://integrateddiabetes.com/Articles/insu/Needle%20Phobia%20article%20edited.pdf. Accessed April 21, 2016.
Health, “7 Ways to Make Blood-Sugar Testing Less Painful”: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20469215,00.html. Accessed March 22, 2016.
Le Monde, “Trypanophobie – Les piqûres moins douloureuses quand on regarde ailleurs”: http://bigbrowser.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/05/24/trypanophobie-les-piqures-sont-moins-douloureuses-quand-on-regarde-ailleurs/. Accessed March 22, 2016.
Roche, “Overcoming Your Fear of Needles”: http://www.accu-chekdiabeteslink.com/overcoming-your-fear-of-needles.html. Accessed March 22, 2016.
Scott Johnson, “10 tips for a fear of needles with diabetes (+1 bonus!),” mySugr, May 27, 2015: https://mysugr.com/fear-of-needles-with-diabetes/. Accessed April 21, 2016.

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