How to Avoid These 5 MRI Side Effects

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.

Tito Jankowski lives in San Francisco. Find him on Twitter and . His latest direction is learning about health and blogging about MRI scans. He's quite the biotech explorer, including designing lab equipment like a blue light transilluminator and PCR machines, and co-founding BioCurious, the largest hackerspace for biotech.

Latest posts by Tito Jankowski (see all)

19 thoughts on “How to Avoid These 5 MRI Side Effects

  1. I have had many MRI and this is the fist time I felt funny. Fuzzy, dizzy and anxious. Creepy since I never felt it before. I pray it wont last…Going on for an hour now !

  2. Hello Tito,

    Last night I went for an MRI scan. I was a bit anxious about it but not very much. During the procedure I had a panic attack but managed to calm myself in order to finish the procedure.
    After 5 hours (scan was taken at around 7:40 PM) so around 12:30 – 1:00 PM i tried to go to sleep but I had very big issues with dizziness and a general not doing so well feeling. During the night I woke up multiple times feeling dizzy and even hyperventilating only managing to get some sleep around 3:30 in the morning.
    Today I really felt generally very bad (huge head aches and nausea, feeling like vomiting) accompanied again by random hyperventilation and what I suppose is fever. Besides these symptoms I also have big burning sensations in the chest area (not the heart but I think at the skin level) and I’m usually very hot on my chest, shoulders and face.

    Now, I went to a general doctor and he did an EKG which looked all good, blood pressure and bpm were also fine and at that moment I only had a fever of 38 Celsius (which is rather small and wouldn’t explain the burning sensations). He only prescribed Paracetamol for the “fever” and sirdalud for muscle relaxation… Now am I or him missing something?
    I’m really anxious about it because I don’t know what it is and how to deal with it.

  3. Ophiuchus Journal of Medicine Entry.

    I shall treat and cure MRI Scan side effects.

    Today, October 16th 2017, I Miguel Tinoco had an MRI scan and afterwards I felt like crap. Fatigue, weakness and a highten projections of pain all over my body even where I have not had pain in a while. Wheb I got home and ate a late lunch which made things even worst. I felt that my food was just sitting in the stomach with little or no digestion process. I decided to take a nap to regain some composure, but my heart was pumping faster and harder than usual and I felt restless. I managed to sleep a little but after 15-20 minutes I woke up with all the effects mentioned above intensified. I then decided to pray but I could barely get up of bed and kneeling was a bit harder than usual. I barely had any desires to pray and all I asked God with meager faith in the name of Jesus Christ was: “Please God, put me to sleep.” I got up and went back to bed again. As soon as I settled ready to try to go to sleep I heard or felt a still small voice which I recognized as God’s voice. The voice commanded me saying: ” Get up and do your rites.” And after struggling a little questioning God to what use, I was obedient and did as the voice commanded. My rites are to wash my hands systematically seven times by putting in and out my hands from the stream of water in a coping shape. After I did that I returned to bed to try to sleep but I noticed that I no longer had any of the issues I was complaining about above, but I gave it no further thought until a little later when I thanked God. I did not sleep but got up and felt hungry and decided to go and buy bread. During my drive, I was given to understand by the same still small voice that my hand washing rites had nothing to do with me feeling better or restored, yet it required a bit of faith and effort of my part.

    I do not know about other people, but the voice kept instructing me. I was also given to understand that the reason I was feeling so crappy was because the MRI scan or radiation had reversed or affected the polarity of my whole body. And the act of touching the metal faucet along with the fresh water which is probably grounded realigned or fixed my body’s magnetic polarity or so I think.

    I give all the glory to God for this observation. It may help alleviate somebody else in the same predicament. If a little water in the hands can work wonders, imagine what a 15 minutes shower, bath or a deep or a walk in the beach can do.

    Yours truly from an unworthy servant in the hands of Christ.


    Miguel Angel Tinoco Rodriguez

  4. I recently had MRI two days ago, for the past two days I experience nausea, w headache. I am claustrophobic and I did practice deep breathing, keeping my eyes closed. However I had to be pulled out a couple of x’s I also been diagnosed w Severe PTSD I wonder if that had anything to do w my experience. I am hypersensitivie when it comes to something as stubbing my toe lol from long term opiate use. I have been clean for three years now. I don’t ever want an MRI again.

  5. Had an MRI scan today (first one ever) and for the rest of the day have been very tired – like chronic fatigue. Funny enough it was for a Knee scan so I was only half way in but getting up, I felt very dizzy and then have been drained of all energy all day. I think science is still years away from figuring out the benefits or damage this large magnetic machine is having on our human energy field. I am hypersensitive to everything anyway so was prepared to be dazed afterwards but the energy drain is another level. Really wish they could come up with something less dramatic that can give us the same quality of images without all the drama.

    • Wow! Interesting! A guy I work with fell ill today at work. He looked terrible and I thought he was going to drop to the floor.. He said he had an MRI done on his knee this morning and thought that it was probably that.. He looked so unwell. I was quite concerned for him.. he ended up going home early. I googled this tonight to see what side effects their maybe.. Now I’ve read these replys it’s quite concerning..

    • I too had an MRI scan yesterday for hand so I was lay flat on my stomachs with hands in front and I was fully in the MRI scanner today I feel rough very down and headache and feeling sick and angry for no reason I’m a genuine happy person so those magnetic fields must put our bodies out of whack no scientists no for sure what these machines can physically do to you. I’ve had MRI scans before and have been 100% fine but this one I was in for half an hour and I feel horrible today I hope it passes.

  6. This is going to sound crazy but please, bear with me. I had my first brain MRI yesterday and the experience was something that I have had a hard time explaining. As you know, with each set of pictures taken, there are different pitches of hums and whirs. Well, initially, I noticed that I could almost feel certain areas of my brain being “targeted” by the sounds. As the MRI progressed, certain sounds became almost painful to various areas of my brain. Now, before I continue, I would like to say, I was wearing earplugs. I could hear the sounds (obviously) but they did NOT hurt my ears).

    Although I was uncomfortable, I was also intrigued by the way my brain was reacting the the scan. In order to pass the time, I focused on the sounds of the machine and the areas of my brain that seemed to be reacting. Those areas changed with each sound. Toward the end of the MRI, things got a little scary. In the third from last set of pictures, my body started getting very warm, starting at my uterus (oddly enough). I felt almost a flattening and pulling-type feeling around the temples. It also felt like the right side of my face was being dragged downward. When I closed my eyes and tried to breathe through it, I immediately felt like I was turned onto my left side.

    That lasted for about 3 minutes. The next set of pictures were ok.

    The last set of pictures truly scared me. Almost immediately, it felt like my frontal lobe was rolling, temple to temple: left to right and back again, repeatedly, and with increasing speed. Almost like a kneading motion. My eyes widened and became hyper-focused; I couldn’t blink. My jaw tightened, my tongue pressed to the roof of my mouth, my fingers flexed, and my vision alternated between clear and blurry. I was very much aware of what was happening but had no control. This did not last for the entire duration of the last set of pictures. I was able to force myself to blink about 30 seconds before the MRI was completed. Once I blinked, I was able to regain control of everything else fairly quickly.

    I’m sure all of this sounds pretty crazy but I have been researching since leaving the MRI yesterday morning and have been unable to find any information on experiences like mine. I had no sedation and am not claustrophobic. Today I have been unnaturally exhausted and have caught myself randomly falling asleep sitting up which is unusual for me. Please, have you heard of reactions like mine?

    • Hello Jessica
      I had an MRA yesterday with and without contrast. And I had a similar experience to what you are describing. Also, I had a lot of nausea, I’m still feeling nauseous today, and very tired. Did you have contrast in your IV?

      • No, no contrast. I also brought up my experience to my neurologist and he was very dismissive. He didn’t even let me finish describing the experience 😑

    • I had something similar – thats how I found this page, was looking for side effects likek mine. Youre likely an energy sensitive too and you know our bodies arent meant to be in large magnetized zone – no suprise you felt all these details.

    • Hi Jessica!
      I had a MRI scan last week and felt the same thing as you did. The brain reacted to certain frequences and different areas of the brain was affected during the cyclus. There was a lower tone in which i could feel it more in the forehead, and a lighter tone that made the center part sort of «vibrate». I could feel this in only one of the scan cyclus which lastes around 2 minutes. The whole scan took 25 minutes and the rest of it was ok, I did not notice any of the other symptoms you describe, only the vibration/aching in the brain during this special sequence. I told the operator this and she said it was not normal, she also said the scan cyclus was a new one. Ive done many MRIs but never felt this before. I had a headache after the scan which is still present, 6 days after the scan. Im also fatigue now. I got to say it got me a bit worried, especially since the headache is still there. Hopefully it will normalize soon.

  7. I’ve been having problems with my lower back and may need surgery. In order to be seen by the orthopedic surgeon I had to have an MRI first. The MRI was performed in Mequon ,Wisconsin at 3:45 PM on Monday December 18, 2017. I suffer from migraine headaches and they have been more frequent since my back problems have intensified. I had a bad migraine the day of my MRI and it was worse after the procedure. I’m glad to find this on the internet so I know it’s not all in my head. The loud noise the machine makes probably was a contributor to making it worse plus my heart was beating so fast the whole time I was in there. Since it was my lower lumbar of my back I had to go all the way in. Susan Linda Pagenkopf Grafton, Wisconsin December 19,2017

  8. I had an MRI yesterday, no dyes were used, the roof fell on me at work – I fell forwards and slammed my head into the wall and got knocked out, I woke up with no memory, other then knowing I had 2 kids, the doctor put me in traction and I had a stroke, today I have a horrible headache and nerves crawling across the front of my scalp, it feels like maggots under the skin and is enough to drive a person crazy ! I took 2 gabapentin for nerve pain and it isnt working, there is another pain on the left side of my forehead, it feels as if my brain is swelling though I know it isnt – this had never happened to me before. It isnt the noise of the machine, I dont mind it, it has a rhythmn to it –but today is hell !!!!!

  9. I had an MRI on my left knee today. no major after effects yet other than it sounds like I’m in an airplane.. I’m quite tired too but that’s probably because I woke up 5 hrs before my alarm and couldn’t go back to sleep. I’m going on 4 hrs of sleep..nap time.

  10. I got a scan in December 2017 and I’ve had some pounding headaches since then. I’m going the homeopathic route from now on.

  11. Had a lower back MRI on Tuesday. Experienced a little dizziness for a couple of minutes before getting of table. More dizziness getting out of bed on Wednesday. Still dizzy Thursday morning. Seems to be dissipating, but concerned. Never happened before.

  12. I also had a MRI on my left knee this morning as some of the posters above. I was surprised with how drained I feel and foggy. I googled a few sites that all said that there are no after symptoms with MRI use until this site. It is interesting how many people talk of dizziness and fatigue. I dont suffer from claustrophobia or high anxiety and I am a builder so very use to loud noises, and yet since the MRI I have been struggling to not fall asleep every time I stop in a relaxing place for more than a few minutes. I am sure that the stress of doing something new, loud, and in a skimpy hospital gown makes your body go into a recovery mode after the event to allow it to ‘catch up’ but I cant believe how tired I am and why I have a headache on one side. Good to know its not just me!

  13. I had an MRI in January, 2018 of my brain . The MRI was done without contrast. I felt excruciating pain, as if an electric screw gun was being used on my head while in the MRI machine. I am not claustrophobic or anxious. The noise did not bother me either. I do not have metal in my body. I explained my experience to the attendant but he simply disregarded my experience. I have been to the Emergency Room twice since the MRI test for excruciating head pain, and prior to the test. I never had a headache. The MRI was ordered due to a fall that I had several months earlier. I have severe headpain daily and believe something happened in the MRI. I can not explain it and neither have my doctors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *