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Safety and Wellness

5 Tips for Surviving Shots

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Do shots make you nervous? You're not alone. Lots of people dread them because they have a very real fear of needles. So next time your doc asks you to roll up your sleeve, try these tips:

  1. Distract yourself while you're waiting. Bring along a game, book, music, or movie player — something you'll get completely caught up in so you're not sitting in the waiting room thinking about the shot. Some doctors' offices schedule "shot clinics" where they do nothing but give shots so the wait time is shorter.
  2. Concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths. Breathe all the way down into your belly. Deep breathing can help people relax — and concentrating on something other than the shot can take your mind off it.
  3. Focus intently on something in the room. Find a picture, poster, or a sign on the wall. Concentrate on the details: If you're looking at a painting, for example, try counting the number of flowers in the garden, cows in the field, or other images. Or create as many new words as you can using the lettering on a sign. Think about how the message on a health awareness poster might affect you. Whatever it takes, keep focusing on something other than the shot until it's over.
  4. Cough. Research shows that coughing as the needle goes in can help some people feel less pain.
  5. Relax your arm. If you're tense — especially if you tense up the area where you're getting the shot — it can make a shot hurt more.

Sometimes people feel lightheaded or faint after getting a shot. If you feel funny, sit down and rest for 15 minutes.

Don't hesitate to tell the doctor or nurse that you're nervous before getting the shot. Medical professionals are used to people who fear shots and they'll be able to help you relax.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: January 2010

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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