Headaches After MRI Scans

I had my routine MRI scan today to monitor the progress of my multiple sclerosis (MS). Really, the scan went just fine - all of the brain and the cervical spine series (with and without contrast) only took 45 minutes. This is a huge improvement over my first scan about 8 years ago, which took over 3 hours.

I don't have a problem with claustrophobia, so I didn't take any sedation. I didn't love the insertion of the intravenous line to put in the Gadolinium (contrast material), but it was over quickly with just a small amount of pain.

The whole thing was so efficient and calm that I almost fell asleep in the tube. I left there congratulating myself on a problem-free MRI.

However, about 30 minutes after I left the clinic, I got hit with a bad headache. Taking Tylenol did nothing. In fact, the pain worsened as the day went on, nearing migraine level discomfort. I felt dizzy and nauseated and had to lie down. Even as I am typing this, almost a full 12 hours later, I am squinting at the keyboard, as I feel unusually sensitive to light at the moment.

I looked this up and found that headache is a side effect of Gadolinium-based contrast agents, as is nausea. (Heads up: I had to dig to find this information from a trusted source. Entering "gadolinium side effects" into Google will bring up pages of hits from attorneys trying to pursue damages for serious adverse events from Gadolinium, such as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. I finally found the actual prescribing information on the FDA website, which confirmed that headache was a potential side effect.)

I think the headache is easing up a little - at least I hope so. I have been drinking what seems like gallons of water today, as instructed by the tech, to "flush out the Gad." I'd like to think this is helping somewhat.

What about any of you? Have you experienced a headache after your MRI scan? Did anything help?

How long did it last? Share your stories in the comment section below. Thank you.

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