April is National Donate Life Month! What to know before giving blood

April plays host to a number of important health observances, but one of the most vital for the American healthcare system is National Donate Life Month. According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, and approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed each day in the U.S.

Giving blood won't just help one person - the need for blood is constant in the U.S. healthcare system, as blood and blood components are needed a great number of surgical interventions and standard medical procedures, so it's feasible that multiple patients could be helped by a single donation.

Ready to get on board? If you choose to give blood during National Donate Life Month, there are some important preparations you should make first to ensure that you are feeling your best before and after the experience. Here are a few great tips to keep in mind from the American Red Cross:

  1. Drink plenty of water

Before you give blood, be sure to drink an extra glass or two of water to stave off dehydration. Roughly one pint of blood is taken during each blood donation and nearly 50 percent of blood consists of water, so the body will lose a great degree of fluids during the process. Additionally, drinking water before the procedure makes veins plumper, which makes it easier for the technician to find the right vein and draw blood.

  1. Eat a healthy meal

Eating before giving blood is a smart choice to avoid potential side effects of dizziness or nausea, and this will also ensure that your blood is nutrient-dense enough to be acceptable for donation. In particular, the American Red Cross suggests eating a iron-rich foods, such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans or spinach. Most importantly, avoid fatty foods! Fat-laden blood could interfere with blood tests and could result in a rejected sample.

  1. Get a good night's rest

Much like eating a solid meal before your donation, getting a good night's rest can also help you avoid some of the major side effects of blood donation. Adults should aim for 8 hours of sleep the night before giving blood, as this can help prevent dizziness and fainting that may occur during the recovery period from blood donation.

  1. Aspirin

Last but not least, if you will be donating platelets during your blood donation, it's important that you do not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin, for 48 hours before your donation. Aspirin is a blood thinner, which has an adverse effect on the role of platelets which rely on their ability to stick to a wound to stop bleeding.

This April before you give the gift of life, make sure you are the healthiest you can be by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to help you support you and your family's wellness year-round.

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