A Cure for the Pain of Shots?

syringe-417786_640If you’re one of the millions of people terrified of needles, there just might be a solution for you. Spanish scientists have found an answer that they believe will work – hold your breath. If you breathe in sharply, it triggers the brain to dampen the nervous system which leaves you less sensitive to pain.

When you are stressed, your blood pressure rises for the fight or flight reflect. Dr. Gustavo Reyes del Paso of the University of Jaén, Spain set out to see if holding your breath (a natural way to raise your blood pressure) come take away some of the pain. His findings were published in the journal Pain Medicine.

What he did was, perhaps, a bit strange. He squished the fingernail of people while they held their breath. He then repeated the action with the volunteers while they breathed slowly. He found that both techniques managed to distract people from their pain but that people reported that it hurt less when they held their breath. He believes that this method might be helpful in situations where people know that pain is on the way (like with a shot) but not in situations where unexpected pain occurs.

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In order for it to work, the person has to hold his breath before the pain starts.

Some medical professionals aren’t buying it, however. As Dr. Richard Chapman of the University of Utah told New Scientist journalists, “Holding the breath can also make a person tense their muscles, which might make some painful conditions worse.” Dr. Anne Murphy of Georgia State University mentioned that the solution only reduces the pain slightly.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]sunstoneonline.com.

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