Did you know or a fear of confined spaces? This fear can make it difficult for some people to feel comfortable stepping into an MRI room and getting a scan, but fortunately, there are ways to make the experience easier.
At Smart Scan Medical Imaging, helping our patients feel comfortable and reducing MRI claustrophobia is our top priority. When you schedule your MRI, relaxing might not be the first thing on your mind, but keeping your nerves in check can make the process easier and allow for more accurate and clear results.
If you or someone close to you suffers from claustrophobia and needs an MRI scan, don’t worry! Here are six tips that can help you relax during your MRI:
1. Know What To Expect
MRI scans are very important for many reasons, from diagnosing serious illnesses to monitoring chronic pain. By taking time before your appointment to learn more about the process and what to expect, you can better prepare yourself and ease your mind.
An MRI machine, or a magnetic resonance imaging machine, is a tube-shaped machine that uses radio waves and strong magnets to get pictures of the inside of your body. During an MRI scan, you’ll usually be lying down on a platform that slides into the machine. MRI machines can be pretty loud while they're on, but the noises are completely normal.
A typical MRI exam takes around 15-30 minutes to complete, depending on the type of scan. During this time, if you have any concerns, you'll be able to communicate with the technician at any time during the exam. Our MRI technologists are trained to help and answer any questions!
2. Bring A Friend Or Family Member
It's not unusual for someone to feel increased anxiety when in a room full of strangers. This increased anxiety can, in turn, lead to worsened claustrophobia during your MRI procedure. That's why many people feel reassured having someone they know and trust close by during MRI exams.
Whether it's a family member or friend, having a loved one with you in the waiting room or even inside the MRI room can help reduce anxiety and make it easier to relax. Our Smart Scan team will be happy to provide you with more information!
3. Listen To Music
We understand that laying in a confined space with rhythmic knocking isn't ideal for most people, even those that aren't claustrophobic. That's why provide our patients with headphones so that they can play music of their choice!
Listening to music can be an effective way to take your mind off the procedure and help you maintain a calm state. You could pick relaxing music to help you stay calm, or you could listen to your favorite high-energy music. Either way, music can help you pass the time—as long as you can keep yourself from dancing along!
4. Get Cozy
Depending on the scan, you might be able to ask your MRI technologist for a blanket or sleeping mask. This can help block out bright light and create a more soothing atmosphere, helping you help you feel more comfortable and relaxed while inside the MRI machine.
5. Use Breathing Techniques
One of the most popular relaxation techniques, regardless of the situation, is breathing exercises. Focusing on your breathing can help you reduce anxious thoughts and avoid a potential panic or anxiety attack.
Try to take slow, deep breaths and focus on the rhythm of your own breathing. This will help you relax, take control of your thoughts and stay in the present moment. If you want to try something more structured, give 'box breathing' a shot.
Box breathing is a simple four-step technique in which you slowly inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, slowly exhale for four counts, and then hold your breath for four counts again. Do this until you feel more relaxed.
6. Ask About Sedatives
If you're particularly prone to panic attacks or think your anxiety might just be more than you can handle, ask your doctor about medication. Depending on the type of scan, your doctor might be able to prescribe a sedative to help you relax during the procedure.
Though it isn't standard practice, mild sedation isn't uncommon during MRI tests. Typically, this sedation isn't enough to make you fall asleep, but it can help you stay still and comfortable while in the scanner.
We hope that these tips help you feel more relaxed and prepared for your MRI scan! It might also help to know that at Smart Scan Medical Imaging, we use wide-bore MRI technology specifically designed to maximize comfort and minimize fear. This type of MRI offers a larger opening to help reduce feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia.
Lastly, remember to talk to our team and let us know what we can do to make your MRI experience as comfortable as possible. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns!