One wonders, seeing men with great physiques try to flee in front of the small needle that the dentist uses to give anesthesia. How is it possible that one can be afraid? And how come we suffer from the idea of an injection that could help our well-being, to the point of finding alternative ways to take a drug?
For those who have to deal with these fears, which can become real phobias, it is better to remember that the fear of needles has a name and is very widespread. Is called aichmofobia: terror is often associated with the fear of blood and is characterized by a vasovagal sensitivity, which can also lead to fainting during an injection or a sample.
Why do you pass out in front of a syringe? Simple: the sight of the needle induces a body response which, after an initial acceleration of the heart rate and an increase in pressure at the sight of the needle, leads to an abrupt deceleration of the heartbeat and a drop in blood pressure, with subsequent fainting. If everyone needs to try to overcome these fears, there are people who really need to challenge this uncontrollable reaction. This is the case of subjects with chronic diseases and in particular with diabetes, who must often use needles.
The needle is scary and not the pain
A recently disclosed study shows how much the patient, in addition to having to accept the chronic disease and the repercussions on the lifestyle, must also live with the fear and discomfort resulting from the therapy which he cannot do without.
“The fear that my patients report – explains Laura Nollino, Diabetesologist at the Complex Operative Unit of Endocrine Diseases of Nutrition Replacement, Cà Foncello Hospital in Treviso – is not associated with the pain caused by the needle, but rather with the fear itself of feeling pain and to action reminiscent of having diabetes. In addition to multidisciplinary educational support, I am very encouraged to be able to offer them the numerous technological solutions that reduce the daily use of needles, guaranteeing better diabetes management”.
The study indicates that aichmophobia should also be controlled for other chronic pathologies such as chronic renal failure requiring dialysis and that it is essential to identify the underlying factors for the development of effective treatments and solutions.
“As with all phobias, it is useful to consult an expert psychotherapist especially when fear is disabling for the success of drug therapies. Talking about the problem serves to circumscribe, define and rationalize it. Often the patient knows that his fear of him is unmotivated, disproportionate to the event – explains the expert – but he doesn’t know how to manage it. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a valid remedy for phobias because through some techniques allows you to overcome fear“.
What to do with diabetes sufferers
Fear with all the symptoms and signs that follow it can be manifested by a blood sample, a vaccination or the repeated administration of a drug, as occurs in the case of a chronic disease such as diabetes. The expert sagnale that “it is as if the daily gesture of the injection or the lancing device awakens more submerged and never investigated problems in the patient, above all due to the frequency of the use of the needles which is repeated at least 8-10 times a day and up to 3 thousand times a year for a person with type 1 diabetes. A psychological resistance that can represent one of the factors that contribute to the reduction of adherence to therapy and therefore to the success of diabetes treatment”.
Countermeasures? Possible. “There are small expedients – continues Nollino – which help to distract the patient who is frightened. An example is to proceed with blood glucose readings quickly, choosing the most comfortable puncture depth based on your skin thickness. In some cases it may be useful to prick the fingertip laterally or to apply emollient lotions which can help the surrounding fragile areas.
Per insulin injections, on the other hand, it is equally important to go without fail with subcutaneous needles of minimum length, changing them at each injection to avoid micro-injuries and always changing the area of the body where to insert the needle”. Finally, it should be remembered that technology is trying to limit the use of needles through increasingly “intelligent” systems that replace the manual needle system for both blood sugar measurement and insulin infusion.