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Why the Sight of Blood Makes You Feel Faint

You Asked: Why Does the Sight of Blood Make Me Feel Faint?

Dear Fit,
I have always wanted to donate blood, but just looking at blood sometimes makes me feel like I'm going to faint. I break out in a cold sweat and feel woozy. Oddly, it only happens when I see real blood, not onscreen blood in movies (I loved Twilight). What is causing this, and can I do anything about it?
— No Love For Blood

That is definitely a great question, and you are definitely not alone. To see why you swoon,


First of all, be glad you are just feeling faint and not actually fainting, because the same causes are at the root of both responses. Fainting occurs when there is a sudden decrease in the flow of blood to the brain, causing people to feel dizzy, get pale in the face, and pass out. This reaction can be born out of fear or emotional distress as well as a drop in blood pressure.

When it comes to seeing red, the faint feelings could be tied to a phenomenon called blood-injury phobia. According to WebMD, this condition evolved as a way for humans to cope with threats:

"The idea is that back in time, when someone was coming at someone else with a sharp stick or rock, a kind of genetic variation allowed certain people to faint in response," explains Tyler C. Ralston, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Honolulu, who treats people with blood-injury phobias. Warriors who fainted looked dead and were passed over during battle. The blood pressure drop also might have helped those who were wounded avoid bleeding to death. Survivors then passed on the "fainting" gene.

The good news is, this psychological condition can be treated by a therapist, rather than drugs or a medical procedure. WebMD recommends finding a psychologist trained in treating phobias who can help you develop relaxation techniques to fight the faint. Fascinating, right?


Join The Conversation
emiley98 emiley98 4 years
Hi, last night i was burshing my teeth and there was blood! I can see blood onscreen but not on me, i became ozzy and werid.I felt as if i was going to fanit my hearing went weird and so did my sight! my dad was there at the time but my parents \u00a0think i'm over reacting! \u00a0i'm not they dont seem to understand, this has happened a few times! But after 10 mins i feel fine again?
rachlovesben rachlovesben 8 years
I not only feel faint at the sight of blood, but just thinking about it...makes me want to pass out. A few years ago, I was holding my brothers hand whilst he was getting stiches and had to leave the room- I fainted in the hallway. I didn't even look at what the doctor was doing!At school when we are required to watch movies that we will be studying, i often have to leave the room and have someone hold me up until i can get to first aid. it's really embarrassing because it happens with the littlest things. At work I cut my finger (okay, so it was bleeding A LOT) and felt faint for the rest of my shift because i could feel the pain and every time i thought about it (even after there was a band-aid on it) i felt so sick. I would love to be a midwife one day, I love babies and I think it would be an amazing job, it is my dream! Sadly I can't see this happening when I have a fear like this..
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
This has happened to me before but then other times I'm perfectly fine, maybe it's just large amounts. ha.
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
Love knowing I'm a warrior!! haha I'm the same way - I can't talk give blood or get blood taken without passing out or getting really faint. Nurses are usually good - I just say I need to lay down and they talk me through it and let me lay down for awhile after the fact. I usually still get sick for the rest of the day, but it's helped me not hit the floor recently!!
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
I have no problem with blood but my mom totally does. When I got my wisdom teeth out, she couldn't handle the sight of the bloody gauze at all. The dentist made me get out of the chair so she could sit down!!
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
I still faint whenever I have to give blood - which, now that I'm pregnant, is quite frequently. In fact, I have actually fainted briefly in the past. Here's a MUCH cheaper solution than therapy. Look away THE ENTIRE TIME. Don't even look at the blood in the bag. I sit in the chair and immediately look away and don't stop looking until the bandaid is put on. I've been fine! Also, tell the nurse/technician that you get faint and they're pretty good at talking the whole time and distracting you, as well as hiding the needle and blood bag afterwards. Also, EAT something sugary beforehand. Low blood sugar can make a slight feeling of faintness much worse. Honestly, the therapy thing sounds overboard to me.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I see blood and other fairly disgusting bodily fluids every day without getting faint-feeling, but my husband just has to HEAR me talk about blood and he gets light-headed. I wonder if constant exposure to the blood would help you overcome your phobia? Sort of like desensitizing yourself to it?
Allytta Allytta 8 years
i believe it's something you can overcome. i certainly did. now i can eat and watch a Nip/Tuck proceedures without any feelings :)
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
This is what would prevent me from becoming a nurse, which is a wonderful profession. But I guess in time, you can get used to the sight of blood and guts if you're exposed to it alot.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
if it matters a lot to you to overcome, I totally support you and any one else to work through this phobia -- blood donation is a truly rewarding experience and they always need more donors. give the gift of life!!
i am one that has to lay down and i am ill all day too, YUK!
syako syako 8 years
Woo! this means I'm a genetic warrior. Love that. ;)
Happsmjc Happsmjc 8 years
This makes me think of a story from high school, when my friends and I started donating blood. One year my friend was behind the curtain just getting her finger pricked to check for iron, next thing you know you hear a thud and see her being wheeled away to the rest area. Just the sight of blood, or prick, made her faint. She obviously never made it to the donation round!
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