Dec 24, 2015

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Deep Breathing, Open Imaging: 5 Ways to Manage MRI Claustrophobia

Deep Breathing, Open Imaging: 5 Ways to Manage MRI Claustrophobia

So, your doctor has spoken those dreaded words, and you need to get an MRI. Whether you have general anxiety issues or have specific problems with claustrophobia, the thought of going through the test could leave you feeling a bit shaky. However, the first step is to avoid getting yourself worked up preemptively. You can start by reminding yourself that the test is not painful, that there are open imaging options available, and although it may take a long time, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort. Your technician will make efforts to ensure that you feel safe and comfortable, and you won’t be in any danger. Of course, anyone with claustrophobia or a panic disorder can tell you that it’s not just as simple as talking yourself down.

1. Halt your panic with a preview. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions before your arrive for your test. You might want to call the center and ask about how they handle patients with anxiety, or visit the center prior to your test to view the testing room and MRI machine. Sometimes, exposing yourself to what you’re up against prior to the experience will help you process it and relax.

2. Listen to music. Because the MRI machine makes a lot of noise, the technician will likely give you earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Some centers will give you headphones that not only plug your ears, but also play music. Ask if this option is available and see if you’ll be able to request what you’d like to hear. Listening to a favorite band or soothing music can give you something else to concentrate on.

3. Practice meditation and relaxation. You can practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques prior to your test. If you’re clenching your fists and tightening your shoulders while you’re in the machine, you’re only going to make yourself feel more tense and anxious.

4. Find an open MRI center. Certain MRI centers offer open imaging options, which is a way of doing an MRI without being completely enclosed. If your claustrophobia is severe, this may be your ultimate option.

5. Inquire about sedation. Many MRI centers offer sedation before the procedure in order to help you relax. You’ll be given a minor sedative prior to entering the MRI machine, and your anxiety should be significantly lessened.

Hopefully, these tips will give you some options to think about. If all else fails, you can always contact MRI centers like Open MRI of Orlando to inquire about their open imaging. Good luck!

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