Word on Health

Word on Needle Phobia

Needle phobia can be defined as a fear of sharp objects such as pins or needles and of the fear procedures requiring the use of needles.

The word phobia comes from the Greek and literally means 'fear' or 'dread'. Suffering from a phobia has been described as having immense fear of a situation or an object that is not in proportion to the actual danger. This fear can lead to a strong desire or need to completely escape the situation or avoid the object. 

Needle phobia is medical condition that is estimated to affects more than 10 percent of the population and it can be severe enough in some cases to warrant people being sedated due to the fear and anxiety the thought and/or sight of a needle causes.

It may even effect some to an extent that they avoid medical procedures including inoculations, blood tests, and in the more severe cases, all medical care. 

Managing the situation and helping alleviate the problem -  Needle phobia is a medical condition that requires treatment just as much as any other.  It also requires the same respect and understanding as conditions like depression – sufferers shouldn’t be expected to be able to `just toughen up and get over it`.

Here are three main preparatory routes to the pain management problems posed by needlephobia: 

1. Providing information - medical staff, friends and parents can all make a difference by making the patient fully aware of what is going to occur and the reasons why. For a child, it is best to explain in very simple terms what is going to happen. 

2. Coping strategies - distraction techniques can really help. For example, you could take along a child's favourite toy, teddy or dolly. Reading a book can help (musical books or pop-ups work especially well with young children). You could also try singing songs, counting to ten or using toys that use the child's other hand or arm. Obviously, taking teddy may not be applicable for adults. 

3. Topical anaesthetic preparations - numbing the nerves before needle procedures, such as venepuncture or venous cannulation. These topical anaesthetics have been used in hospitals for many years and are often known as "magic cream". The use of a topical anaesthetic preparation can have a profound influence upon a child’s experience of needle procedures and can play a major part in preventing development of needlephobia.

The charity Anxiety UK can offer help and support for people living with needle phobia, click here to visit their website. 

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All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.