UPDATED April 2018: Questions to ask, or story to share? Check out the MRIguides Forums
When a doctor states that you need an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), scary thoughts can go through your mind. Often, every horror story you have ever heard of terrible side effects can be the first things you think about. Side effects are possible with any medical procedure, but most people do not have side effects and report no problems either during or after the scan.
1. One possible side effect can be feeling dizzy or fuzzy-headed during or after the scan. Often this occurs when the person is already anxious and worried. The sounds inside an MRI scanner are a continuous low hum and this can make people dizzy. Also, keep your eyes closed while inside. The claustrophobic feeling will be lessened and this may prevent the dizziness from occurring. Try to breathe deeply and relax while in the scanner to reduce the anxiety you are feeling.
2. Headaches or slight nausea have been reported after a scan. The nausea may come from the noises in the scanner, as it sometimes sounds as if the noises are spinning around you. Again, use relaxation techniques and stay calm. Deep breathing or visualization techniques can do wonders for de-stressing the body.
3. Another possible side effect that can happen both during and after the scan is what is described as pressure or a “pulling in the head.” While some people have described the feeling as something being in their head, what is most likely causing the feeling would be the noise inside the machine. Wearing a set of approved ear plugs may reduce these feelings.
4. Backaches and fatigue are other possible side effects from having an MRI. However, these are most likely due from lying still for so long on the hard table and not really from the scan itself. A very common side effect is being sensitive to health issues. After having an MRI, any strange feeling in the body is often attributed to the test, when in reality, the aches and pains occurred before the test also. People expect to have side effects from the test and sometimes, they are hypersensitive to their bodies afterwards because they are looking for those effects and wondering how bad they will be.
5. One extremely rare, but possible, side effect is having metal in the body that causes pain during a scan. Since you will always be asked, several times, if you have any metal in your body, this is not one worth worrying about. You will be asked to remove all jewelry before the scan. Some dental work may cause a little tingling in the mouth, but nothing painful.
An allergic reaction to the dye used is possible as well. Typically, a mild pain or burning at the injection site or a minor skin rash is possible. Nausea and hives were the most common allergic reactions to the contrast that was used.
Remember that stress and anxiety can cause more problems that the actual test itself. Try not to worry about the test or the results. Relax and you may not feel any side effects at all.
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