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MRI Noise: How to Protect Your Hearing

Sep 18, 2020 MRI Noise: How to Protect Your Hearing

Did you know that the noise from an MRI machine can cause hearing impairment and/or tinnitus? Learn how you can protect your hearing.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a large magnet and radio waves
to look at organs and structures inside your body. Health care
professionals use MRI scans to diagnose a variety of conditions, from torn
ligaments to tumors. But did you know that the Noise from an MRI
machine may cause hearing impairment and or tinnitus?

Twice as Loud as Older MRI Technology

Current state-of-the-art 3T MR scanners are twice as fast and provide
better imaging than older 1.5T MR technology. However, due to the
increased field strength, they are also twice as loud as previous
technology, and noise levels can reach up to 120 dBA equivalent to a loud
rock concert! The use of hearing protection is necessary so that your ears
are not injured during the procedure.

Hearing Protection Must Be Worn Correctly

Fortunately, it is standard practice for imaging centers to provide patients
with earplugs and/ or headphones to reduce acoustic noise reaching the
ears. The most important thing to note is that ear protection MUST be
worn correctly for it to be effective.

Some imaging centers require the technician to place the earplug while
others allow you to do it yourself and visibly inspect that they are inserted
properly. We can not overstate the importance of proper insertion to
maximize protection.

How To Wear Soft Foam Earplugs

  1. Roll the earplug up into a small, thin "snake" with your fingers.
    You can use one or both hands.
  2. Pull the top of your ear up and back with your opposite hand to
    straighten out your ear canal.
  3. Hold the earplug in with your finger until it expands to fill the
    ear canal.

Double Your Hearing Protection

Our Audiologists at Hearing Doctors strongly recommend you double your
hearing protection by wearing the provided earplugs and requesting
additional headphones to be placed on top. In addition, some new
scanners have an optional “Acoustic Reduction Mode” or “Silent Scan”
which allows the technician to dampen the level of noise by slowing the
system down - you just have to ask!

If at any time you feel the noise is too loud please speak up and alert your technician.

If you, or a loved one, are getting an MRI scan, make sure whoever is
undergoing the scan is wearing properly fitted hearing protection. This will
diminish any risk of temporary or enduring hearing loss and tinnitus.

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