How to Deal with the Fear of Lancet Needles

What is a Lancet?

A lancet is a sharp instrument / needle used to prick yourself (usually in the finger) to draw a small sample of blood to measure blood glucose level. They are usually used by people with diabetes to better understand their blood glucose levels, and to manage their health. People with the fear of needles may find it difficult to monitor their glucose levels because of the need to face lancet needles.

Is There Really a Need to Use Them Daily?

Even if you may have diabetes, is there a need to use them everyday, at every meal? There is no hard-and-fast rule to this, and the best advice is as given by your doctor. However, we do have guidelines for your consideration that involve both regular and occasional monitoring!

Intermittent Schedule Testing

Aim to test and log your blood glucose levels at least twice a day, on at least 3 days a week. This helps you understand how your food and activity affect your BGL.

Intermittent Testing Schedule

For those of us who have had diabetes for a period of time and logged regularly early on, you may wonder whether to measure your glucose levels using the schedule above, especially if you already know the effect of your usual meals on your blood glucose levels.

Measuring your blood glucose is still important and helpful if you are trying new cuisines / meals where you have not measured its effect on your glucose levels.

Remember that the recommended time to measure is approximately 2 hours after consuming your meals.

You may decide that you want to test more frequently, or follow a different monitoring pattern. As long as you are using the knowledge of your blood glucose levels to make lifestyle decisions, you are on the right track in managing your health!

Even if you have a fear of needles, bear in mind that you may need to do some additional monitoring if you are planning to be active, feeling unwell, drinking alcohol or feeling the symptoms of a hypo episode.

Why Should I Test My Blood Glucose Levels?

Here are some situations which may be helpful for you to test your blood glucose to improve your understanding of it, even if you have a fear of needles!

What Has My Meal Done to My Blood Glucose?

To see how a meal has affected your blood glucose, you could try doing a test immediately before and 2 hours after your meal. After 2 hours, < 10mmols/L is an ideal glucose reading.

If your reading is higher than 10mmols/L, you can considering adjusting your meal to see if it’s a better reading next time. If it is < 10mmols/L, good job and it’s likely you can keep this meal in your list of preferred meal choices!

What Does Activity Do to My Blood Glucose?

You can test before and after your activity to see the effect on your blood glucose. With exercise you should see a decrease in your blood glucose levels some time after you exercise. Some people do see a slight increase in glucose levels after exercising. This is normal and temporary only, as the long-term effect is better control of your diabetes. Do drink more water to hydrate yourself to help bring the glucose levels down. To find out what kinds of exercise may suit you, check out this article here:

The Types Of Exercise You Should Be Doing

What Happens to My Blood Glucose Overnight?

To see what your glucose level is like overnight, you can test before sleeping and before breakfast. High readings in the morning can happen for many different reasons. It could be caused by a snack eaten before bed, a delayed rise in glucose caused by a high-fat evening meal or the dawn phenomenon.

The dawn phenomenon is related to the natural overnight release of certain hormones in our body, which cause our blood glucose levels to increase.

If your blood glucose levels are high upon waking, we suggest logging your food intake and blood glucose regularly for a few days, especially before bedtime and after waking up in the morning. With the information gathered, you can have a good discussion with your doctor or diabetes nurse – who may adjust your medication doses. Avoiding carbohydrates right at bedtime may also help!

When I Feel Unwell, What Happens to My Blood Glucose?

You may find that when you are unwell, your blood glucose levels increase. It’s important to check your blood glucose regularly and follow the sick day advice.

If I Feel Hypoglycaemic, What Is Happening to My Blood Glucose?

For certain medications such as insulin or sulfonylureas, there is a chance you can experience hypoglycaemia. Monitoring can confirm hypos and can encourage you to take action.

To find out more about how medications affect your blood glucose, you can click here:

Navigating Your Diabetes Medications Chart

To find out on how to reduce the chances of hypos, click here:

What to Do for Low Blood Sugar? – Glycoleap

By understanding all of this, you can take action to keep your glucose levels in target, which reduces the risk of long-term problems associated with diabetes.

How to Deal with the Fear of Needles?

So the key question is, how do you deal with the fear of needles if you need to face them on a regular basis to monitor your blood glucose? We have 4 suggestions.

1. Don’t Look at the Needle

Consider using Safeticet lancets. We are not advertising this brand of lancets here, but Safeticet lancets do have a unique way of ‘hiding’ the needles. As such, when preparing the lancet, you will not see a sharp needle!

This is how it looks like and how to use it:

We hear that the yellow version of the Safeticet lancet is less painful. However, some also said that it does not prick deep enough for them to draw blood.

Alternatively, for the usual lancets, you can avoid looking at the needle if your loved one is around to help you prepare the lancing device!

2. Reward Yourself After the Check

After disposing the lancet carefully, do something that you enjoy! Be it watching a short video clip on the internet or TV, listening to some music, taking a walk, or spending time with your loved ones. Not food-related, ideally! 🙂 Rewarding yourself after doing something you’re afraid of can help lessen some of the fear, and increase your anticipation of the reward after!

Remember to record your logs too! Glyco app can be used to log, and attain feedback from dietitians about it. GlycoLeap features graphs and colour-coded results, making it easier for you to make sense of your numbers by identifying trends and times when you are out of range. Alternatively a logbook can be used to manually record the readings.

3. Adjust the Depth of Lancet on Lancing Device

If you are not used to pricking often, a less intense depth of “2” should be sufficient to draw a small sample of blood for testing. If you have been pricking for some time, you may consider experimenting to a depth of “3” or “4”.

Here’s how it works for the AccuChek Softclix lancing device:

4. Take Blood from the Side of Your Fingertip!

The sides of your fingertips are usually the recommended place for taking blood glucose measurements because it’s less painful there! If the outcome is less painful, this may help reduce the fear of needles.

In Conclusion,

You can manage your fear of lancet needles in 4 ways!

  1. Don’t look at the needle
  2. Reward yourself after the check
  3. Adjust the depth of lancet on lancing device
  4. Take blood from the sides of your fingertip

Most importantly, remind yourself of the purpose of taking blood glucose measurements – to better understand your body and health – even if you have a fear of needles! It will take time to reduce this fear and sometimes this fear will always be present. However, doing something that scares you for the benefit of your health is something that is worth considering.

Do you think these tips are helpful? Drop me an email at elizabeth.chew@holmusk.com to share your thoughts and tips.