MRI And Tinnitus: Everything You Need To Know

MRIs and Tinnitus

An MRI is an important medical test that can provide valuable information about a person’s health, and aid in the diagnosis and management of an array of injuries and disease. Physicians may order an MRI for a variety of reasons, such as being able to visualize certain areas of the body that aren’t easily evaluated via X-ray or CT scan. While there may be certain drawbacks associated with MRIs (i.e. loud noise exposure), typically they are only performed when it is deemed medically necessary and it is believed that information obtained from the MRI outweighs any drawbacks.

Our team of audiologists discusses the potential benefits of an MRI for tinnitus

How An MRI works

An MRI uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce images of the inside of the body by creating a strong magnetic field that aligns the atoms in the body. The radio waves are then sent through the body, which causes the aligned atoms to emit signals. These signals are then converted into images by a computer. The spinning magnets produce a loud sound that can produce up to 110 decibels, which is as loud as a rock concert, and the test can last for 20 minutes or longer.

Can MRIs Cause Tinnitus Or Hearing Loss?

For some people, the loud noise emitted by an MRI machine can be uncomfortable. In certain cases when a person undergoes frequent MRIs, there may be some risk of hearing loss due to the loud noise exposure (Salvi & Shepard, 2018). Loud noise exposure can also be a trigger for tinnitus, or for individuals with existing tinnitus it can “spike” or exacerbate it. Tinnitus is an umbrella term that refers to the perception of hearing a sound in the ears – most often described as a ringing or buzzing. While many individuals that experience tinnitus may feel that it isn’t bothersome, for others it can be quite debilitating.

"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
– Steve D.
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Stress and anxiety are common in people with chronic tinnitus, and the thought of a loud MRI can understandably elevate anxiety. MRIs are an important diagnostic tool, so read on for some tips about how to combat the noise and protect your ears if you need an MRI, and what to do if you experience tinnitus afterwards.

Wear Hearing Protection

Noise protection can be worn either over the ear or in the ear. Earplugs are designed to fit snugly in your ear and block out noise. Earplugs can be made of foam, silicone, or other materials. Earmuffs fit over the ears and can be worn on top of earplugs. This is the most important step as the noise generated during an MRI can reach dangerous levels; wearing earplugs or earmuffs helps reduce the risk of noise induced hearing loss, especially in cases of prolonged exposure.

What To Do If You Have Tinnitus After An MRI

If you find yourself with new tinnitus or worsened tinnitus after a loud MRI, there are a few things you can do to ease your symptoms. First, it is possible that it is just temporary. You can use masking sounds, such as white or pink noise, to give your ears some relief and distract your mind from the ringing. Second, practice breathing techniques and stress reduction techniques, as it is possible for tinnitus to be exacerbated by stress. And lastly, if the tinnitus has not improved, follow up with an ENT and/or audiologist to test your hearing and discuss possible treatment options.

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Seek Help If You Have Tinnitus

If you need help with tinnitus, consider a free consultation with us here at Treble Health. We have audiologists who are tinnitus experts that are available everyday to discuss how you can reduce your tinnitus. There are scientifically-backed treatments that work; there is hope. Join thousands of people who have reduced their tinnitus with Treble Health. Get started today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Citation for this article:

Salvi, R., & Sheppard, A. (2018). Is noise in the MR imager a significant risk factor for hearing loss? Radiology, 286(2), 609–610. 

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