Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing has made the diagnosis and observation of several conditions to be much, much easier and more accurate. However, the machines do make a lot of noise, and this is something that all patients need to be aware of so that they can take proper precautions. With the right tools, your MRI will go very smoothly, and two of those tools are earplugs and headphones.
Like a Jet Aircraft
CNN notes that the noise from an MRI machine, to someone actually in the machine, can be like "standing near a jet aircraft." It's essential that you protect your hearing because constant exposure to excessively loud noise can result in a permanent hearing loss. Even a mild loss can be noticeable enough to affect your daily life.
Earplugs and Headphones
When you get an MRI done, the tech performing the test must give you earplugs and often a pair of headphones as well. The earplugs block the ambient sound while the headphones provide instructions. The sound from the headphones will be able to get through the earplugs, and you'll also hear the MRI a little; the earplugs reduce sound, not eliminate it entirely.
If you receive just the headphones, ask the tech if they will provide enough reduction in sound; some brands do and some don't, thus requiring earplugs be worn under them.
Don't Refuse the Hearing Protection
Even if the earplugs and headphones are a bit uncomfortable, wear them. Hearing loss is worse to live with, and if the loss isn't a temporary shift that returns after a few hours, it could be permanent.
Another reason you shouldn't refuse is because some organizations forbid techs from completing the test if the patient refuses hearing protection.
Human Error and Loud Sounds
Chances are your MRI tech will get that hearing protection to you immediately. However, human error can always occur, so if you haven't received any hearing protection and you're about to undergo the MRI, stop the tech and remind him or her. You have the right to get hearing protection first.
Also be aware that, because of a difference in the size of ear canals between people, you might need a different size of earplug, or you may have to try reinserting the earplugs before continuing with the test. If the plugs don't occlude your ear canals properly, you could still be exposed to louder-than-necessary sound.
Your MRI tech wants you to be safe. Follow all safety instructions, and be sure that hearing protection is in place so that your test is totally beneficial.
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