You can usually donate plasma if your asthma is well managed. Still, it helps to be aware of the risks and take proper precautions beforehand to ensure your safety.

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Blood is made up of platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells, all of which are suspended in a liquid called plasma. Donating plasma can help people with liver disease and blood clotting disorders, among many others.

In the United States, government rules and guidelines for individual donation centers determine who can donate plasma. People with asthma generally can donate as long as their asthma is well managed at the time of their appointment.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the donation of blood and blood components such as plasma. These guidelines are for the protection of the person receiving the plasma and the person who donates.

If you want to donate plasma, you must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have a body weight of at least 110 pounds
  • not have gotten a new tattoo or body piercing in the 4 months prior to donating
  • follow a recommended diet of high protein, iron-rich foods, and good hydration
  • test negative for certain viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis

Each plasma donation center also has its own additional requirements. Some might not accept donations from anyone with asthma.

However, many centers will welcome a plasma donation if you have asthma and you:

  • are feeling well on the day of the donation
  • do not have limitations on daily activities
  • are not having difficulty breathing on the day of the donation

Some donation centers might defer you from donating if your asthma is severe or if you are taking oral or injected steroids to manage your asthma.

In the United Kingdom, you must defer your donation if you’ve had a recent course of steroid tablets or injections.

Steroid therapy can hide an infection in your body. Some donation centers may defer you in order to reduce the risk of transmitting an infection.

You can manage some side effects of plasma donation with getting rest, drinking water, and eating iron-rich foods. Common side effects include:

  • dehydration
  • fatigue
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • bruising or bleeding

More severe side effects are possible during donation. Let someone know immediately if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • back pain
  • chest heaviness
  • chills
  • tingling around the mouth

Can donating plasma affect your breathing?

If you’re experiencing asthma symptoms, blood or plasma donation can worsen those symptoms. After a donation, there’s less oxygen flowing through your blood. This is one reason donation centers typically won’t let you donate if you have asthma symptoms.

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Check in with the plasma donation center to make sure you can donate, especially if you take medication to manage your asthma.

Try to avoid alcohol and nicotine before your appointment. Get plenty of rest the night before and drink noncaffeinated fluids in the 2–3 hours before you are scheduled to give plasma. Eat a nutritious meal before going.

If you have a rescue inhaler, consider bringing it with you to the appointment.

After your plasma donation, you’ll stay at the center for 10–15 minutes to make sure your body begins to recover. Drinking plenty of water and eating a meal can help replenish your body’s fluid and energy stores.

You’ll have a bandage over the site of the needle prick from the plasma donation that you can keep on for several hours. After you take off the bandage, keep the site clean with soap and water.

You can continue to monitor your asthma symptoms after the plasma donation. It usually takes about 48 hours for your body to replenish plasma. If you experience asthma symptoms, consider calling a doctor or visiting a health clinic.

What disqualifies you from donating plasma?

If you’re experiencing asthma symptoms on the day of the donation, you might be deferred from donating until you’re feeling well. Some donation centers might also exclude people with severe asthma or who have taken a recent course of oral or injected steroid medications.

Each plasma donation center has its own eligibility guidelines. Check with your donation center to review their eligibility criteria.

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Here’s a brief overview of some common questions people with asthma ask about donating plasma.

Can donating blood affect asthma?

Blood donation reduces the amount of oxygen available in the body. This might affect your asthma, especially if you are currently experiencing symptoms. Some blood donors might experience serious side effects that include difficulty breathing, but this is rare.

Can I donate plasma if I use an inhaler for asthma?

Typically, using an inhaler does not stop you from donating plasma. Some locations might request that you reschedule your donation if you have asthma symptoms or recently used steroid injections or oral steroids.

Can certain asthma medications disqualify you from donating blood or plasma?

Generally, asthma medications do not disqualify you from donating blood or plasma. A possible exception is an injectable or oral steroid, such as prednisolone (Orapred).

How long after an asthma attack should I wait to donate plasma?

It’s best to wait at least 7 days after using steroid tablets or injections. Using preventive inhalers, however, should not prevent you from donating plasma.

Individual donation centers might recommend a longer waiting period, or your doctor might give more individualized advice.

Donating plasma is an important way to support people with certain medical conditions. If you have asthma, you can typically donate plasma as long as you’re not experiencing symptoms. Some donation centers might have additional requirements, such as the donor not having had a recent course of certain medications.

Resting, drinking fluids, and eating a high protein, iron-rich meal before and after donation can help reduce the risk of side effects from plasma donation.