Plasma donation involves separating the plasma component of blood from the red blood cells, platelets and other parts before returning them to the donor. The fluid volume loss can lead to feeling weak after donation.
To feel good and recover quickly after plasma donation, follow the recommendations below.
Immediately After Donation
Several steps should be taken immediately after completing a plasma donation to speed up recovery and avoid any risks of dizziness, fainting or other issues:
- Rest with your arm elevated – The donor should be instructed to lie back and elevate the donating arm above the level of their heart for at least 10 minutes. This helps prevent blood from pooling in the arm and reduces the risk of hypotension.
- Inform staff of any symptoms – Staff should be notified right away if the donor begins to feel weak, nauseous, sweaty, dizzy or develops a headache. These may indicate a reaction to the donation. The donor may need to lie down longer, receive extra fluids or be monitored more closely.
- Avoid strenuous activity – Donors should not lift anything heavy, do any strenuous physical activity or strain themselves immediately after donating plasma. They may still feel weakened from the volume loss and fluid shifts for at least 30-60 minutes.
- Remain seated for 30 minutes – It is recommended to sit and take it easy for at least a half hour after donating plasma. Donors should avoid standing up quickly from a reclined position for risk of orthostatic hypotension. They should stand up gradually.
Within The First Hour
There are a few important things donors should do within the first hour after completing their plasma donations to aid their recovery:
1. Drink fruit juice or sugary drinks
Consuming around 8 ounces of fruit juice or other drinks with natural sugars can help raise blood sugar levels that may have dropped due to the plasma volume loss. Options include orange juice, apple juice, lemonade or sweet tea.
2. Eat a light carbohydrate snack
Pairing a beverage with a small carbohydrate snack within an hour can further boost blood sugar and energy levels to combat post-donation fatigue. Some good options are:
- Crackers or dry toast
- A banana
- An apple with peanut butter
- Graham cracker cookies
- Cereal and milk
3. Avoid protein-rich foods
While protein is important for overall recovery, simple carbohydrates are absorbed faster and provide immediate energy within the first hour. Save more substantial protein-containing meals for later.
4. Stay hydrated
Drink at least 16-24 ounces of fluids like water or juice during this time period. Fluid losses during plasma donation are mostly replaced during the process but donors still benefit from extra hydration. Sip drinks slowly to avoid nausea.
5. Remain seated
Don’t rush to stand up right away. Consider sitting for another 15-30 minutes minimum to give your body time to adjust to the lower plasma volume. Stand up gradually when you do get up.
6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
These can further dehydrate donors and worsen hypotension. It’s best to avoid them for at least 2-3 hours after plasma donation or until you’re feeling close to normal again.
7. Inform staff of any concerns
If you continue to feel weak, dizzy, nauseous or develop a headache, notify the donation center staff right away. You may need extra fluids, intravenous electrolytes or snacks to fully recover.
8. Take it easy
Avoid strenuous tasks, heavy lifting or any activity that raises your heart rate too much for at least an hour following donation. Your body needs time to adapt.
Following these commonsense steps within the crucial first 60 minutes after donating plasma can speed up your recovery and help ensure you avoid any issues from complications related to fluid shifts and potentially lowered blood sugar.
Next Day And Beyond
The day after donating plasma and in subsequent days, donors should take the following steps to fully recover from their donations:
1. Stay hydrated
It is important to continue drinking plenty of extra fluids over the next 48 hours as your body replenishes and replaces the plasma volume lost during donation. Aim for an additional 16 to 24 ounces beyond your normal fluid intake each day.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet
Make an effort to eat plenty of protein while also consuming fruits and vegetables after plasma donation. Protein aids in replacing albumin and other proteins lost in the donated plasma, while micronutrients from produce support tissue repair.
3. Get adequate rest
Getting a full night’s sleep the first night after donating plasma and beyond can assist your body in regenerating blood cells and replenishing plasma proteins. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night for a few days.
4. Gradually resume exercise
Although strenuous exercise should still be avoided the day following donation, light to moderate workouts can often be safely resumed 2 to 3 days later once you are feeling close to 100%. Listen to your body and take breaks if needed.
5. Monitor for symptoms
Pay attention for signs you have not fully recovered like weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue or thirst. Resume activities slowly and rehydrate/refuel as needed. Inform staff if any symptoms persist.
6. Future donations may be easier
With each plasma donation, your body gains experience handling the fluid shifts and volume changes. Future sessions may cause fewer side effects and allow for faster recovery as you become a more seasoned donor.
And remember that:
Plasma donation has no lasting effects when properly recovered from. Both plasma volume and proteins return to normal within approximately 3 days after donation. Taking thorough recovery steps and making certain lifestyle changes just for a few days can get you back to feeling like your usual self soon.
So in the days following your plasma donation, remain mindful of your body’s needs through extra hydration, nutritious meals, sufficient rest and listening to warning signs. A full recovery will pave the way for more successful donations down the road.
Successfully recovering from plasma donation requires following certain best practices both immediately after the donation and in the following days. Taking simple steps like drinking fruit juice, eating carbohydrates, staying hydrated and resting can significantly speed your recovery and prevent adverse reactions.
While the plasma donation process itself is quick and generally safe, donors must be diligent about proper recovery to avoid any risks. Listening to your body and informing staff of any issues is important to ensure your overall health and comfort during and after each plasma donation session.
With time and experience, your body will become better adapted to the fluid shifts and volume loss associated with plasma donation. But proper recovery is still critical for each and every donation, especially at first.
With consistency in following the recovery recommendations provided in this article, most donors find that the side effects they initially experience after donating plasma become less severe or disappear entirely. Any fluid or nutrient deficiencies are corrected, energy levels rebound and donors can resume normal activities quickly and comfortably.
So as you prepare for your next plasma donation, remember that thorough but simple recovery strategies are the key to overcoming any hurdles and minimizing side effects so you can continue donating plasma safely for as long as you desire. Following the proven recommendations outlined here will maximize your chances of a successful donation and swift return to normal.
1. How long does it take to fully recover from plasma donation?
Most donors find that they require 1 to 3 days to fully replenish their plasma volume and protein levels after donating. However, following the recovery steps outlined in this article can help you feel back to normal within 24 to 48 hours in many cases.
2. What can I do if I still feel weak after 24 hours?
If you still feel weak, tired or generally “off” one day later, you may need to continue increasing your fluid and calorie intake. Aim for an extra 500 to 1,000 calories per day through nutritious meals and protein shakes. Replenishing nutrients can often speed your recovery after the initial 24 hours.
3. How much weight will I lose from plasma donation?
On average, donors lose around 3 to 7 ounces (85 to 200 grams) from a standard plasma donation. However, nearly all of this “weight” loss is from fluid, not fat or muscle tissue.
4. How soon can I lift weights after donating plasma?
Most experts recommend waiting at least 48 hours after donating plasma before resuming any strenuous exercise, especially weightlifting. This gives your body enough time to largely replenish fluid volume and recover fully from the donation process.
5. How much extra water should I drink after donating?
Aiming for an additional 16 to 32 ounces (0.5 to 1 liter) beyond your normal daily fluid intake is a good target for the 1 to 2 days following your plasma donation. This will ensure you adequately rehydrate and replace lost fluids over time.
6. Can I donate plasma twice per week?
Yes, the FDA allows up to 104 plasma donations per year, which equates to donating as often as twice per week. However, more frequent donations mean you must take extra care with recovery to avoid health issues.
7. Should I avoid salt after donating plasma?
There is no need to severely restrict sodium intake following plasma donation. However, drinking electrolyte drinks to replenish minerals lost in donated plasma can aid your recovery. Following a balanced, nutritious diet as normal is often sufficient.
8. How soon after donating can I workout?
Most experts recommend waiting at least 48 hours after donating plasma before resuming any strenuous exercise. This allows your body to largely replenish lost fluid volume and recover fully. Listen to your body and take breaks if needed during workouts.