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What are the Most Common Blood Transfusion Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A blood transfusion is a procedure in which additional blood, either donated from another person or drawn from the patient in advance and stored, is added intravenously into the body. It is performed for a wide range of reasons, including diseases affecting levels of blood or blood cell counts, as well as injuries or surgeries resulting in blood loss. Although the procedure is common and generally considered safe, blood transfusion side effects may occur.

One of the most common blood transfusion side effects is a fever. This side effect is generally considered normal and not life-threatening if it occurs after the procedure. Fever is thought to occur because of the body becoming accustomed to additional white blood cells from the transfusion. If a fever comes on suddenly during the procedure or immediately after, it could be a more serious sign of the body having an adverse reaction to the donated blood.

An allergic reaction is another one of the possible blood transfusion side effects. The blood that is added intravenously into the body is the same blood type as the patient’s blood; however, a person can still experience an allergic reaction once the new blood is added. Signs of this reaction include itchiness and rash on the skin. Generally allergic reactions after transfusions are not considered dangerous and can usually be treated with the use of antihistamine medications.

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Another one of the possible blood transfusion side effects that may occur is an infection, disease, or virus transmitted from the donated blood. Although donated blood for transfusions is tested for infections and diseases prior to being approved for use in the procedure, there may still be a risk of contracting certain infections. People who have blood transfusions may be at a higher risk of certain conditions, such as hepatitis B and C, human lymphocytotrophic virus, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A condition known as transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) can possibly develop after a blood transfusion. The exact cause behind this condition is not known for certain. When TRALI develops, it usually occurs within six hours of a transfusion and results in damage to the lungs. This lung damage can cause difficulty breathing in patients after the procedure. It is usually treatable with the use of oxygen and mechanical ventilation; however, if patients were in ill health prior to the procedure, they may not be able to recover as easily and the condition could be fatal.

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Wisedly33
Post 2

Several years ago, my mom experienced internal bleeding because she was taking ibuprofen and aspirin together for her arthritis. She knew better, but she was determined to do it her way.

"Her way" landed her in the ER and the hospital for a week, while the docs did an endoscopy and then a colonoscopy, just to check things out.

While she was in the ER, she got three pints of blood. She didn't want it because she was scared to death of having a reaction, but my husband finally talked her into it. He can deal with her when I can't, for some reason. Anyway, the extra blood did its job and she ended up being OK, thank goodness! The doctor fussed at her about taking the meds together, and reminded her she didn't have an MD after her name and didn't need to be prescribing meds to herself.

Scrbblchick
Post 1

With the efforts in making sure the blood supply is safe, and better typing and crossmatching procedures in place, side effects are less common. They're not unknown, but in general, they don't happen very often.

I remember when my dad got blood one time. They read a long list of possible side effects, and the ones that he needed to alert the nurses for. Most of them were itchiness, fever, etc. There were a few serious ones, like trouble breathing and similar. Fortunately, he didn't have any reactions to the blood.

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