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I once heard an emergency room nurse say they called for extra blood when someone with red hair is brought in. Being a redhead I asked why and was told "you bleed more".  How bizzare I thought.  Not long after  I asked a friend of mine who worked as a delivery room nurse if she heard such a thing and she responded with "sure!..Everyone knows it".

Not everyone!

Redheads are mutants. That should not come as a surprise to those of you who know us. We are a freaks from birth and are treated that way most of our lives. Teased, harrassed, loved and feared. But did you know there was science behind it??

If you want to produce a true redhead you need two people who carry a recessive gene called chromosone 16. When they come together you end up with a mutation in the MC1R protein and there you go....a redhead is born!

What that means for the child goes well beyond a fear of the sun and an inability to wear pink.

First off, the dentist!

I used to drive mine mad. I was always crying and trying to push them away when I was a kid. It hurt so much! Even though they gave me the shot, I could feel every pinch of the clamps and my gums would scream!  As I got older I got more vocal. "I'm not frozen!" I would say and they would give me a second shot, or a third. Once I was given the maximum amount allowed and then sent home as I could easily feel what they were doing. I couldn't explain it then but I can now.

A growing body of research shows that people with red hair need larger doses of anesthesia and often are resistant to local pain blockers like Novocaine. As a result, redheads tend to be particularly nervous about dental procedures and are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with other hair colors, according to new research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

More on my vindication can be found here.

I also remember getting my tonsils out. Not the whole operation, but more than I should remember. I remember what the OR looked like and I remember being awake, and in pain, as I was wheeled out of the OR and being taken to recovery. I was told it was all a dream. Or was it?

Go forward 20 years and I'm a week away from having my gallbladder removed when a coworker tells me they heard of a study showing redheads waking up during surgery isn't uncommon. I'm a Librarian! I started to research and guess what??

The University of Louisville did some studies on redheaded women (only women, they didn't want to mix up the genders) and how they related to anesthetic.

The researchers determined that roughly 20% more anesthetic was required, on average, for the redheads compared with the women of other hair color -- a finding that was highly statistically significant.


With this research in hand I went to see my Doctor and he laughed. I spoke with the anesthiologist who was putting me under and he said he was used to redheads. They put me out before 8am on a Tuesday with assurances to talk with me in the afternoon. Too bad I didn't come out of the anesthetic until Wednesday! None of the nurses or the attendings thought it was unusual. "It's the hair".

I also have issues with over-the-counter and prescription. Tylenol doesn't work on me when ibuprophen does. Some medications that are supposed to knock me out make me hyper and others that have warnings for hypertension put me to sleep.

Redheads also feel pain differently than others. In some cases we feel it stronger while in others less. Scientists are still investigating what all this means.

"Seventy per cent of redheads are redheads because a particular gene doesn't work," Prof. Jeff Mogil of Montreal's McGill University, told CTV News.

"This is a gene that would otherwise give you brown hair. This gene is also relevant to pain and painkilling by certain drugs."

Read more:

I hope you find this look at redheads and our quirks interesting if not educational.

I just like to inform :)

UPDATE: Since this is still on the rec list (heading to 24 hours now!!), I thought I should point out some something highlighted in some comments. Don't take my word on this stuff. Do the research yourself! Read the reports, etc. See what it says. Also, what is experienced by one isn't true of all redheads (or all people!). EVeryone is still an individual.

Originally posted to MsLibrarian on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 03:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos Classics and Community Spotlight.

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