Understanding And Managing Claustrophobia In MRI Machines

Health & Medical Blog

MRI scans are an important way of diagnosing a variety of health problems. Unfortunately those who suffer from claustrophobia often struggle to make it through a scan. Here's what those with claustrophobia need to know about how it relates to MRI machines and how to manage it.

How Claustrophobia Can Start In An MRI Machine

MRI scans require loading the patient head-first into the scanning machine. For people with claustrophobia, this can be a very frightening experience. People with this disease feel constricted and trapped in small locations. An MRI machine is typically just large enough to fit the body of the average person with a little room around them for comfort.

As a result, claustrophobia can quickly kick in with the patient. As they will be loaded in head-first they also won't be able to see the exit of the machine. For many claustrophobic people, this will increase their panic by making them feel more trapped.

Claustrophobia Can Be Very Problematic For MRI Scans

Claustrophobia is one of the most common phobias and it can be very hard to manage. People with it intellectually understand that they are okay in the MRI machine and that there is no need to panic, but their subconscious mind will still suffer.

This is a major problem because MRI scans require a person to remain still during scans. At most, people can move their arms to scratch their face between individual scans. Excessive movement (particularly panicked thrashing) will make it impossible to take accurate MRI scans. Panic can also make it difficult for the patient to go through another scan in the future.

Getting Through The MRI Without Panicking Or Moving

Staying still is vital during an MRI scan but when people panic due to claustrophobia, they aren't likely to stay very still. As a result, it is important for them to manage their symptoms by mastering techniques like square breathing. This is a yoga breathing method that involves inhaling on the count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding empty lungs for four seconds. Focusing entirely on the breathing will help distract the mind from panic.

This may be difficult for many people to master while in the MRI machine, but practice at home can offer major benefits. The interesting thing about going through with an MRI scan in this way is that it may also help manage claustrophobia through exposure therapy. This involves facing that which causes fears and getting acclimated to them.

In this way, it is possible for people with claustrophobia to get through MRI scans without panicking. This will create an accurate scan which can diagnose any serious problem and help that person live a happy and healthy life.


29 December 2016

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