MRI Claustrophobia: It's A Real Thing

Claustrophobia is real. We get it, it can be very intimidating. To patients with claustrophobia, the MRI machine is one big, over-sized tube that chirps, squeaks, buzzes and hums loudly to signal the giant magnet that is circling around the small compartment of the tube where your head is located. Sounds like a blast, right? Wrong. Thankfully, we’ve done some research and come up with some tips to help you relieve your claustrophobia before and during your MRI procedure!

1) Consider drug therapy. This is only appropriate for extreme circumstances where a patient believes that their claustrophobia will legitimately keep them from completing an MRI procedure. Drugs should be temporary, used only for the procedure, prescribed by a doctor and also approved by the facility doing the MRI.

2) Think about herbal remedies. There are a lot of natural herbal medicines that help ease the anxiety caused by claustrophobia. Two of the most effective herbs are passionflower and kava. These can be taken as tablets or capsules, or used in teas and tinctures as well.

3) Use various relaxation techniques. If you start to panic, breathe in through your nose for ten seconds and then exhale through your mouth for ten more seconds. Continue the pattern to help slow your heart rate. Try to think about happy or relaxing things while you’re in the MRI machine as well. Our centers also allow you to listen to music during your procedure, which is a great distraction for patients and can help keep them feeling calm and relaxed.

4) Have a friend in the room. If you’re feeling nervous, it always helps to have someone in the room with you. Our technologists are always available to sit with patients during their procedures, to hold their hands, or even just to keep up conversation with them during the procedure.

5) Find an alternative machine. If you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s highly recommended that you have your MRI procedure at a facility that has open MRI machines. Rather than placing your head inside a small tube, open MRI machines provide much more space for patients. 

 At Carlsbad Open MRI, we understand how scary an MRI procedure can be for patients. It's even scarier for those who suffer from claustrophobia. It’s because of this that we chose to provide our patients with an open MRI machine rather than a closed MRI machine. Our staff is highly supportive, and will go out of their way to ensure the comfort of each patient as they undergo the procedure. Keep the tips above in mind when you head in for your MRI procedure, and don’t be nervous! We’re here for you.