Listen to a Favorite Book "Go to another place in your mind," says Jeanne van Gemert, a mind/body therapist at Duke Integrative Medicine. You can't take your iPod (or anything metal) into the MRI, but most centers have sound systems, so you can bring a CD of your favorite novel for them to play. Closing your eyes and visiting India or Italy can make the time go faster. Even a CD of your favorite music can keep you relaxed.
Imagine You're Going Home Numerous studies link guided imagery to lower anxiety during medical treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, and MRI. "I often advise patients to imagine the trip home from the hospital," says Donald Wood, a certified registered nurse anesthetist in Florida. "Picture every street you drive down and all the landmarks along the way, like the church on the corner. It can be a great distraction." Or fantasize about a vacation, family reunion, shopping spree--whatever makes you happy.
Take Antianxiety Medication If mental distractions won't ease your claustrophobia, ask your doctor to prescribe an antianxiety drug before the MRI.
Are There Any Alternatives?
At some "open MRI" centers, you can stand, sit, or even watch Glee on TV while you get scanned. But these tubeless machines aren't always ideal, says Jeffrey Weinreb, MD, a professor of radiology at the Yale University School of Medicine. "Open MRIs generally use low magnetic fields, which do not yield the same quality of images as the high magnetic fields in closed scanners," he explains. Low magnetic images may be adequate during a routine scan of the brain (for chronic headaches) or knee, Dr. Weinreb says, but for other exams, such as those looking to detect cancerous tumors, a high magnetic scan is recommended. The good news: Closed scanners are now being built with shorter, wider tubes and require only your head to be enclosed if you have a brain scan.
More from Prevention:
Dr. Oz's Tips for a Pain-Free Colonoscopy
When Dr. Mehmet Oz went for his first colonoscopy last year, he wasn't anxious--until he was on the exam table. "I realized the unknown would be known," admits the star of The Dr. Oz Show. "But one of the best parts of colonoscopy is that they can usually remove and cure the problem at the same time." And, in fact, his doctor did find and remove a symptomless polyp that could have turned into cancer if left alone. Here's what Dr. Oz wants you to know about colonoscopy:
Listen to Your Doc: Eat Light!
"I made the mistake of eating beans for lunch the day before my colonoscopy," Dr. Oz recalls with a grimace. "Something light, like Jello, would have been easier to pass."
Deep Breathing Really Helps
Most people don't feel much, if anything, but "there were a few uncomfortable moments when they moved the scope around some corners," he recalls. "If you take slow, deep breaths and pretend you're elsewhere, it's much easier."
Getting Screened Can Make You a Hero
"Do it so you can be a role model for your loved ones. if you show them how simple it can be, then it becomes the norm for everyone else."