Not sure how you feel about having an injection….. I may be all grown up, but the idea of a huge big needle, being thrust into my tender arm or butt, is SCARY. And for the most part, it is not just a figment of my imagination that it is going to be soar…… needles cause ouches.
As an adult, it is not acceptable to wail for hours afterwards, even if you would like to. Actually it is not even acceptable to wail in the moment – a sharp intake of air, along with a flinch is the sum total of what is considered socially acceptable behaviour.
Babies haven’t learnt this social etiquette – give a baby an injection and it will howl for as long as it wants needs to…. in response to the PAIN and discomfort.
But, you can take the sting out of an injection and so decrease the shrieking……..
Removing the sting
Vaccinations are designed to remove the sting of disease.
Priming little ones immune systems, to successfully handle the nasties of the world, serves to protect them from a host of potentially life threatening diseases.
But all those injections, can sting tiny little bodies.
Dummies and distractions, are the non-pharmacological approaches most often employed, to ease the pain of needle pricks.
But neither approach does much to stop the actual sting.
Sugar does the trick
It takes a spoonful of sugar, IMMEDIATELY PRIOR to the needle prick, to decrease the sting.
This is the finding of a meta-analysis that analyzed the experiences of 1551 babies, ranging in age from a month to a year, getting their shots. The data came from 14 different studies involving babies from all over the world – all the babies cried a lot less, when they were given a few drops of sugar, two minutes before immunisation.
Sugar eases the pain of an injection
The finding is probably not a big surprise – most grown ups know that NICE THINGS help you cope. And most of us have used SUGAR to medicate our STRESS.
The problem with this approach, is we don’t just consume a small piece of chocolate to relieve the tension and anxiety, we eat the whole slab. And this, brings on a whole lot of additional stress – metabolic, as well as psychological.
Stress of immunization
So if you are dealing with the stress of getting junior his/her shots, make sure you drop a little sugar on their lips, a minute or two before the needle stabs them. The best way to do this, is to mix a spoonful of sugar in a little water and then pop this into their mouth, using a syringe or your finger.
You might want to pop something sweet in your mouth too – to help you muddle through the trauma of your little one’s injection. Let’s face it, watching your little one hurt is a stressful ordeal. You only need a drop of sugar, neither you or junior should be main lining the stuff, because in the end, too much sugar makes you fat, fatigued and foggy.
PS. The same principle applies for older children – just make sure you give the lollipop before the injection, after the event is too late to change the body chemistry. The only real benefit of the after injection lollipop, is it makes the doctor/nurse look good.Sweet-tasting solutions for needle-related procedural pain in infants one month to one year of age. The Cochrane Review (2012) Manal Kassab, Jann P Foster, Maralyn Foureur, Cathrine Fowler.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind stress ?
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