Can You Donate Plasma With a Cold?



Donating plasma is a selfless act that can help save lives. Plasma contains proteins that help blood clot and fight diseases. It is used to make lifesaving medicines for people with bleeding disorders, immunodeficiencies, and other illnesses. However, if you have a cold or are otherwise sick, you may wonder if you can or should donate plasma. This article will explain whether you can donate plasma if you have a cold, the risks involved, symptoms that would disqualify you, and more.

Overview: Should You Donate Plasma With a Cold?

The short answer is no, you should not donate plasma if you currently have a cold. Colds are caused by viruses, which can potentially be transmitted through plasma donations. Donating while sick is dangerous for both you and the recipient of your plasma. Instead, wait until your cold symptoms have fully resolved before donating plasma again.

Dangers of Donating Plasma With a Cold

There are several risks associated with donating plasma while you are sick with a cold:

  • You may transmit the virus to the plasma recipient. Many viruses can survive the plasma donation process. If you donate with an active viral infection like a cold, the recipient of your plasma could become infected and sick as well. This poses a particular danger to recipients with weakened immune systems.
  • You may worsen your own illness. Plasma donations temporarily lower your antibody levels. If you donate while fighting a virus, your immune response may become weaker and prolong your illness.
  • You are more likely to experience side effects. Donating plasma normally causes mild side effects like dizziness or lightheadedness. If you donate while under the weather, side effects may become more severe and dangerous.

To avoid these risks, plasma donation centers have strict health screening standards in place. They will not allow you to donate if you show symptoms of illness.

Waiting Until You Recover

Instead of donating plasma with a cold, wait until your symptoms fully resolve and you feel healthy again. Most colds run their course within 7-10 days. To confirm you’ve recovered, make sure you:

  • No longer have a fever
  • Have minimal nasal congestion or discharge
  • Have reduced coughing
  • Are not experiencing body aches or fatigue

Waiting to donate reduces risks and ensures your plasma can be used to help others as intended. Minor delays in donating will not significantly impact most patients waiting to receive plasma. However, donating while sick could directly endanger their health.

Symptoms That Disqualify You From Donating Plasma

Plasma donation centers screen all donors for any symptoms of illness that would make them ineligible to donate. Here are some of the most common cold symptoms that will prevent you from giving plasma:


  • Having a fever over 100.4°F (38°C) will disqualify you from donating plasma. Fevers are a sign your immune system is actively fighting an infection.
  • You should be fever-free for at least 48 hours without the use of fever reducers before donating plasma again.

Cough and Sore Throat

  • A persistent cough, especially with mucus or phlegm, indicates you are still infected and contagious. Both coughs and sore throats commonly occur with colds.
  • Donating with a cough or sore throat risks transmitting viruses to the plasma recipient. Wait until these symptoms have resolved.

Runny or Stuffy Nose

  • A runny nose, congestion, and sinus pressure are classic cold symptoms that need to fully resolve before you can donate plasma.
  • Even if you feel well enough to function with mild nasal symptoms, refrain from donating until all symptoms are gone.

Body Aches and Fatigue

  • The achiness, malaise, and lack of energy caused by a cold can persist even after other symptoms improve. Wait until your energy returns to normal.
  • Donating plasma normally causes mild fatigue. If combined with cold-related fatigue, you may faint or become dizzy.


  • Chills often accompany fevers during a viral illness like a cold. Shivering and feeling unusually chilled are signs your body is still fighting an active infection.

By self-screening for these symptoms and not donating plasma while you have a cold, you help protect vulnerable patients in need of plasma transfusions. Their weakened immune systems may not be able to fight off any viruses transmitted through plasma.

How Long Should You Wait After a Cold Before Donating Plasma?

There is no set number of days you must wait after a cold before donating plasma again. Instead, base your decision on the status of your symptoms. Here are some guidelines on when it is likely safe to donate after a cold:

  • At least 7 days after your symptoms started if it was a mild cold
  • At least 14 days after your symptoms started if you had a more severe cold
  • At least 48 hours after your last fever or use of fever-reducers like ibuprofen
  • At least 3-5 days after your cough resolves
  • At least 1 week after colored nasal discharge resolves

The most important factor is that all your symptoms have fully resolved, not just some. Even lingering mild symptoms may be a sign you are still contagious. When in doubt, call your plasma donation center and ask their guidelines on donating after an illness.

Some plasma centers may require a doctor’s clearance note before accepting your donation after a recent illness. This helps confirm you have fully recovered and are healthy enough to donate without putting others at risk.

Other Common Cold Symptoms that Disqualify Plasma Donations

Beyond the major symptoms covered earlier, here are some other cold symptoms that indicate you should not donate plasma:

  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sinus congestion
  • Eye redness, watering, irritation
  • Chest congestion
  • Sleepiness

Even if you think some of your lingering cold symptoms are unrelated to infection (like sinus congestion), refrain from donating until everything has cleared up. Plasma centers need to minimize risks, and will not be able to accept your donation when any cold symptoms are present.

Can You Donate Plasma While Taking Cold Medicine?

Cold medications help relieve symptoms like coughs, congestion, fevers, and body aches. However, many over-the-counter cold remedies can disqualify you temporarily from giving plasma:

  • Decongestants like pseudoephedrine shrink swollen nasal tissues. Donors must be off decongestants for 48 hours before donating.
  • Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) also cause a temporary deferral from donating plasma.
  • Cough suppressants with dextromethorphan are disqualifying if taken within 72 hours of donating.
  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen are ineligible if taken shortly before a plasma donation.
  • Dayquil/Nyquil cause temporary deferrals due to their combination of decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers.

Cough drops and nasal saline spray are generally acceptable. Discuss all medications with your plasma center before donating to ensure you meet the health requirements. Never hide medication use – it could endanger recipients.

When Is it Safe to Donate Plasma After Having a Cold?

Do not rush back to donate plasma after a cold until all symptoms have fully and clearly resolved. Make sure:

  • You feel energized with no fatigue, weakness, or body aches
  • You have had no fever for at least 48 hours without medicine
  • Nasal discharge is clear again with no congestion
  • Coughing and sneezing has minimized or ceased
  • Your throat feels normal with no soreness

The best approach is to wait a few extra days, even after you start feeling better, before attempting to donate plasma again. This helps ensure any lingering viruses have cleared your system. Avoid donating after a cold until you are confident you feel 100% healthy to maximize safety.

Can You Donate Plasma After Testing Positive for COVID-19?

If you had COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus, you must wait at least 14 days after recovery before donating plasma. Some plasma centers require a lab test confirming you are negative or an immunity test showing antibodies to COVID-19. Policies vary, so check donor requirements. Those who previously had COVID-19 can donate convalescent plasma specifically to help other COVID-19 patients.

The Bottom Line

While plasma donations provide a critical medical resource, your health and safety should be the top priority. Avoid donating plasma when you have any cold symptoms or are recovering from an illness. Wait until all symptoms resolve plus a few extra days before attempting to donate again. Be honest with screening staff about your health status – hiding illness puts others at risk. With some patience after you recover, you can safely return to donating plasma and potentially saving lives!

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