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How can you overcome claustrophobia and the fear of MRI machines?

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Quick Answer

To overcome claustrophobia and the fear of MRI machines, patients desensitize themselves by identifying the root cause or trigger of their feelings and reducing its association with their feelings, says the Center for Diagnostic Imaging. Therapeutic procedures facilitate the desensitization by helping patients relax and numb their fears. Hypnosis provides therapeutic relief that causes patients to open up to new suggestions and changes their behaviors by helping them stop focusing on their fear.

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For patients who have underlying conditions, such as breathing issues, that impair their ability to relax, alternative approaches to dealing with anxiety involve sedation or having friends or family members by the patients’ side to reassure them during the MRI exam, as the University of California, San Francisco states. Watching videos or relaxing nature scenes during certain procedures helps some patients overcome their anxiety.

A physician may prescribe oral medication before an MRI exam to minimize anxiety in patients who are unsure about their tolerance of the confined space. Earplugs block out the scanner’s noise and help some patients relax, notes University of California, San Francisco. Techniques that involve imagining and picturing the details of a soothing experience or place help patients relax, according to the Center for Diagnostic Imaging.

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