Why eating before taking injections is very important – Experts

Janet Ogundepo

Medical practitioners have advised patients to always eat before taking injections to avoid dizziness, weakness or fainting.

They said aside from the fear or phobia people have about injections, they are foreign bodies and require a certain amount of glucose in the body to prevent adverse reactions unrelated to the injections.

The experts, a public health specialist and a senior nurse and midwife, also asserted that professional nurses administering intramuscular injections must ask the patient if and when they had their meal before giving the injection.

According to Medical News Today, injections consist of a needle and syringe and are used to deliver liquid medications, fluids or nutrients directly into a person’s body.

Injections could be administered into a person’s vein (intravenous), muscle (intramuscular), skin or bone.

Also, injections could be used to administer vaccines and other types of medications.

Administering intramuscular injections and vaccines are usually within the purview of the nurses.

PUNCH Healthwise gathered that in some hospitals, nurses administering intramuscular injections do not ask patients whether they had eaten before giving them the injection.

They mentioned feeling weak, dizzy, and almost fainting after receiving the injections when they had not eaten.

One of them, identified only as Blessing, noted that the nurse who administered the injection did not ask whether she had eaten or not.

She added, “The doctor told me that I was going to get some medications and take three doses of injection. When the nurse called me to come in for the injection, I was not asked whether I had eaten or not but I had not eaten. Immediately after the injection, I began to feel dizzy and weak. The nurse had to quickly ask me to lie on the bed so I could rest for some time.”

However, the experts who spoke to PUNCH Healthwise stated that professional nurses were trained to ask patients when they ate last before giving an injection.

In an interview with PUNCH Healthwise, a Public Health expert Dr Rotimi Adesanya, stated that not all medical condition injections, noting that most drugs have oral versions.

He further explained that injections are foreign bodies and require certain positions and glucose levels before they can be administered.

“Injections are foreign bodies and they come with several side effects. The reactions could vary from dizziness to weakness, some people may collapse and some can have itching, among others.

“To be on the safe side, because before you introduce a foreign body to someone, the position also matters. Some injections should be administered while the person is lying down. People who are frail may have to lie down to take the injection,” the doctor said.

He further stated that patients given intramuscular injections without eating close to the time may suffer from low blood sugar, resulting in dizziness.

Adesanya added, “Some people may have low blood pressure and blood sugar if they have not eaten before taking the injection. They will be destabilised generally. Asking a patient whether they have eaten or not is a reassurance to the nurse or doctor that the person is fit and stable to withstand the foreign agent which is about to be introduced into the person.”

The public health specialist also said, “For oral drugs, there are some that should be used before eating, there are some that should be used after eating and there are those that should be taken while eating but for injections, they must eat first. The patient must eat first because a foreign body is being introduced which can destabilise the person. The fact that the person has eaten is to reassure us that the person has stamina and enough sugar in the system to withstand what will come as the effect of the injection.”

He further urged nurses to inquire about their clients’ meal status before administering injections, advising those who had not eaten to do so and wait for about 15-30 minutes before receiving the injection.

The doctor said, “Nurses that don’t ask for that are carefree. A careful nurse will always ask a patient if they have eaten before administering the injection.”

He advised patients to always truthfully disclose their meal status when asked and inquire from the nurse if taking the injection without eating was safe.

Further speaking on the issue, the Lagos State Chairman of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Christianah Adeboboye, asserted, “Not everyone in white or scrub uniform in the hospital is a professional nurse.”

She mentioned that there were rules and standard practices of injection administration that every professional nurse was aware of.

“Not everyone in uniform in the hospital is a nurse. Professional nurses will always follow their standard practice rules. So, you need to verify who the hospital personnel involved in such practice and his or her qualifications,” Adeboboye said.

The Lagos NANNM chairperson, however, noted that injections, such as insulin injections for diabetic patients, should be taken a few minutes before food or on an empty stomach.

The consequences of taking injections that require a particular level of glucose in the body on an empty stomach, Adeboboye said, could lead to adverse reactions such as weakness, blurred vision and dizziness.

She said, “For such an injection that needs some food, I mean, the injections that should not be taken on empty, if taken without food may cause some adverse reactions such as headache, blurred vision, dizziness, weakness or the patient may even collapse.”

Adeboboye further noted that patients have the right to know about the drug being given, why it is being administered, what the drug is for and a right to consent or reject treatment.



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