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Ask the Doc

June 2011 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q: I have been donating for years and have always had a great experience-no after-affects at all. The last few times, however, I felt really light-headed. Even the next day I felt a little queasy in my stomach. What can I do to help prevent this from happening in the future?

First, thank you for being a regular blood donor! You have already made a life-saving difference in the lives of others-many right here in the Ashland community. Excessive heat, lack of sleep, donating on an empty stomach-all of these factors can affect how you feel after donating blood. To help you get ready for a more positive experience at your next donation, here are some suggestions: Hydration is essential to a positive blood donation experience. Whether donating for the first or the 50th time, light-headedness can sometimes happen. That's why drinking plenty of fluids before and after you donate is so important. Make sure your system is fully hydrated.

We recommend donors drink 12-16 ounces or more just prior to donating and plenty of fluids for the remainder of the day to replace fluid volume. It is also highly recommended that you avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for a few hours after donating.

Good nutrition and a healthy iron-rich diet is another important step. We regularly encourage blood donors to make iron-rich foods part of their daily diet and to eat a full meal within six hours of donating. Frequent blood donors are advised to consider taking a daily multivitamin with iron. And if eating a healthy diet is not enough to give you the iron you need, your physician may prescribe iron supplements to add to the iron you get from foods.

Many donors underestimate the role iron plays in blood donation. An essential component of our hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood, iron supplies the body with a reliable source of energy for optimum health and well-being. While good nutrition and a healthy diet rich in iron are important for general health, this is especially important for blood donors. Based on age, gender, and other factors, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is:

  • Women (menstruating) ages 19-50, 18 mg/dayWomen 51 years or older, 8 mg/day
  • Pregnant women, 27 mg/day
  • Men 19 and older, 8 mg a day

For additional information about healthy nutrition for blood donors, see Memorial Blood Centers' "Healthy Nutrition for Blood Donors" brochure.

Summer is a challenging time for keeping the shelves stocked with blood. Fortunately local Ashland businesses and organizations are partnering with Memorial Blood Centers throughout the month of July to make it easy for everyone in the community to make a blood donation. So please make a date to donate today at one of the following drives:

Hickman Chiropractic
400 E. Lakeshore Dr., Ashland
Contact Phone: (715) 682-5656 
Schedule Online, enter Sponsor Code 2231 

  • July 6, 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
  • July 7, 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM

Memorial Medical Center
1615 Maple Lane, Ashland
Contact Phone: (715) 685-5391
Schedule Online, enter Sponsor Code 1959

  • July 7, 2:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Memorial Medical Center
1615 Maple Lane, Ashland
Contact Phone: (715) 685-5391
Schedule Online, enter Sponsor Code 1959

  • July 7, 2:00 PM - 5:30 PM

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 90
220 Main St. E., Ashland
Contact Phone: (715) 209-1506
Schedule Online, enter Sponsor Code 2058

  • July 8, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Bremer Bank
31 W. Bayfield St., Washburn
Contact Phone: (715) 373-5601
Schedule Online, enter Sponsor Code 2078

  • July 8, 8 AM - 11 AM

Contact the sponsoring organization directly to schedule your donation appointment. Making an appointment online also is easy and convenient. Visit our Online Scheduling page, and enter the Sponsor Code listed above for the drive where you would like to donate. You also can search by zip code for another community blood drive near you or make an appointment at one of our Northland donor centers, including at Essentia Health in Superior or Burning Tree Plaza in Duluth.

Jed Gorlin, M.D. is Medical Director and Vice President, Medical and Quality Affairs for Memorial Blood Centers. Elizabeth Perry, M.D. is Associate Medical Director for Memorial Blood Centers.

Send us your questions at Call us today 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) to schedule an appointment, or to find out more about Memorial Blood Centers and how we partner with the Ashland community to save lives.