After donating plasma
When you donate blood, you decrease your circulating blood volume by about 20%. It takes the body about 24 hours to remanufacture what you lost. So, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to replenish the fluids that you lost during the donation process.
The American Red Cross recommends drinking 8-10 glasses of water or other fluids within 24 hours of your donation.
Alcohol is dehydrating, and because your volume is less than normal, the amount of alcohol you consume will have an unpredictable effect. So, you should drink non-alcohol and non-caffeine beverages to rebuild your volume and prevent dehydration.
Some good beverages you should drink after donating plasma
- Water – Plain old water is always a good choice after donating plasma. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces or 2 liters of water throughout the rest of the day to replace fluids lost during donation. Sip on water regularly in the hours after your donation.
- Electrolyte drinks – Beverages containing sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium can help replenish electrolytes lost in your plasma. Look for electrolyte waters or sports drinks designed for rehydration. Coconut water is also rich in electrolytes.
- Homemade electrolyte drinks – You can make your own electrolyte drink by adding 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon salt substitute (for potassium) to a liter of water. Add a squeeze of lemon for flavor.
- Low-sugar fruit juices – Fruit juices like apple and grape can provide water, carbohydrates and a bit of potassium to aid your recovery. But stick with juices that have no added sugar and only contain fruit juice as the first ingredient.
- Bone broths – Chicken or vegetable broths are a good alternative to plain water as they contain electrolytes in addition to fluids. The sodium and potassium in broth can help balance out what you lost during donation. Have a cup of warm broth as a comforting drink.
- Herbal teas – Caffeine-free teas like chamomile, ginger or mint provide hydration in a warming beverage. Herbal teas also contain antioxidants that can help speed your body’s recovery. Avoid caffeinated teas which are diuretic.
- Skim milk – Low-fat or non-fat milk provides fluids as well as protein and calcium to replenish what was lost in your plasma. Have a glass of skim milk or yogurt drink as a post-donation beverage. But stick to moderation due to the sugar in milk.
- 100% fruit smoothies – A smoothie blended with fruit, ice and water can replenish some nutrients and hydrate you after donating plasma. Limit added juices, yogurt or other high sugar ingredients.
The key is choosing drinks that will not only restore fluids but also replenish electrolytes to restore your body’s fluid balance after plasma donation. Keep sipping on these beverages throughout the rest of the day and track your urine color and thirst to ensure you’re adequately rehydrated.
Some drinks you should avoid after donating plasma
Some drinks you should avoid for at least a day after donating plasma:
- Caffeinated beverages – Coffee, soda and energy drinks are diuretic, meaning they promote fluid loss through urination. This can worsen dehydration after plasma donation when your fluid levels are already low.
- Alcoholic drinks – Alcohol is also diuretic and can lower blood pressure further after donation. It also puts stress on the liver when it’s working to replenish lost proteins. Wait at least 48 hours after donating plasma before drinking alcohol.
- Sugary juices – While fruit juices provide fluids, they also contain high amounts of sugar. This can cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash, leaving you feeling exhausted. Opt for water or electrolyte drinks instead.
- Cordial drinks, lemonade – These beverages tend to be high in sugar and acidic due to the lemon juice, citric acid or artificial flavors. They also contain negligible amounts of electrolytes needed for recovery.
- High fat or high protein shakes – While protein shakes can be suitable after exercise, they are not recommended right after plasma donation. Your digestive system is under stress and needs easy-to-process fluids for proper recovery.
- Carbonated beverages – The carbonation in soda and some mineral waters can cause bloating and gas, making you feel uncomfortable. It also means you consume the fluids more quickly without proper rehydration.
For at least the rest of the donation day and the following day, focus on drinking mainly water and electrolyte beverages to properly rehydrate and replace fluids lost during plasma donation. Avoid high sugar drinks, alcohol, caffeine and carbonation that can worsen side effects and interfere with your body’s recovery process.
Some activities you should not do after donating plasma
- Vigorous exercise – Strenuous physical activity right after donating plasma is not recommended. Your blood volume is lower and you have less oxygen carrying capacity, so exercise can cause dizziness, fatigue and other issues.
- Heavy lifting – Avoid lifting or moving anything too heavy for at least 12-24 hours after donating plasma. You are more susceptible to strains and tears due to lower blood pressure and reduced muscle strength.
- Stand for extended periods – Your blood pressure is lower after donating plasma, so standing still for long periods can cause dizziness, fainting and headaches. Sit or lie down as needed the rest of the donation day.
- Hot showers or baths – High temperatures can further lower your already low blood pressure after plasma donation. Take warm, not hot, showers for at least the next day.
- Extended study or computer use – Sitting for long periods of time can strain your circulatory system even more after donating plasma. Take frequent breaks and change positions often.
- Driving long distances – Fatigue, dizziness and lower blood pressure after plasma donation make long road trips inadvisable. Avoid driving for at least 6-12 hours after donation.
- Household chores – Limit intensive cleaning, yard work and other chores that require prolonged standing, heavy lifting or high exertion for at least a day. Focus on rest and recovery first.
Avoid any activities that cause dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea or other symptoms. Focus on staying hydrated, replenishing nutrients and getting lots of rest. You can resume your normal routine once you feel back to your baseline energy and blood pressure levels. Your health comes first!