Radiation sickness is an illness caused by exposure to high levels of radiation. Those affected suffer from various complaints and have to undergo lengthy treatment. The disease can only be prevented to a limited extent.
What is radiation sickness?
Radiation sickness is an illness that occurs after brief, intense exposure to ionizing radiation. This is the case, for example, after nuclear weapon explosions or radiation accidents and after direct contact with radioactive substances. Depending on how long and intensive the contact lasts, the symptoms can range from mild to severe and, in the worst case, to immediate death. For everything about dilated cardiomyopathy, please visit foodezine.com.
A promising treatment is only possible with mild to moderate diseases and focuses on reducing the radiation content in the body. Since radiation sickness usually occurs suddenly, it is difficult to prevent. However, it is possible to at least reduce the symptoms by taking quick action.
Radiation sickness is caused by increased exposure to various radioactive substances. Such an overdose occurs, for example, in the event of a reactor accident, direct contact with radioactive materials or prolonged contact with radio or gamma rays. The so-called volatile substances are also a trigger of radiation sickness.
These include iodine-131, iodine-133, cesium-134 and cesium-137. In the event of a nuclear accident, these substances can spread through the air and thus contaminate large areas of land and the people who are in the endangered area. Depending on how high the radiation exposure is, there are mild, moderate or severe symptoms.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms associated with radiation sickness depend on the dose of X -rays and gamma rays. The higher the dose, the faster symptoms appear and the longer they last. The lasting effects and chances of survival also depend on the equivalent dose received.
Small doses can have long-term effects such as cancer or genetic changes, although this stochastic radiation damage is not a direct symptom. Slightly higher doses of 0.2 to 0.5 Sv (Sievert) reduce the number of red blood cells in the body. A first radiation hangover can occur at 0.5 to 1 Sv. This leads to headaches, an increased risk of infection and temporary sterility in men.
One speaks of a slight radiation sickness from 1 to 2 Sv. The typical symptoms here include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and permanent discomfort. In addition, recovery from other injuries is severely impaired. Here, too, temporary infertility occurs in men. A load of 2 Sv to 3 Sv is called severe radiation sickness.
The symptoms range from hair loss and a high risk of infection to permanent sterility. Higher levels of radiation increase the severity of the complaints mentioned and lead to rapid death in the case of the most severe radiation sickness, which is present from 6 Sv.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Radiation sickness can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms and individual medical history. Since the disease usually occurs as a result of a nuclear accident, the cause is easy to identify. The doctor then has the task of determining the severity of the disease, which can be done using various tests and examinations.
First of all, blood pressure, pulse, weight and size are determined, then the important organs are examined and palpated. Inflammation values such as CRP are determined in the laboratory using a blood count. A chromosome count is also carried out. If the doctor treating you already has a guess, the bone marrow is punctured to determine the severity of the radiation sickness. Ultrasound examinations are also standard in the diagnosis of radiation sickness.
The course of radiation sickness depends on the radiation dose received. In the best case, there is little long-term damage, in the worst case, death occurs within a few minutes. If medium doses are ingested, changes in the blood count, skin damage and internal bleeding occur within the first few hours and days, which can also lead to death in the long term.
The complications that can be expected from radiation sickness depend on the intensity of the radiation to which the person concerned was exposed. However, even small doses of radiation can cause serious long-term effects such as genetic mutations or cancer. At medium doses, severe headaches and loss of appetite can lead to rapid weight loss, which in turn can lead to very serious circulatory problems, including collapse.
In addition, with a higher radiation dose, the loss of body hair, especially scalp hair, is to be expected. Sterility, which can be permanent, is not uncommon in men. Furthermore, there is a risk of impaired wound healing, so that even minor injuries can become infected and the risk of sepsis increases significantly.
High doses of radiation often destroy the intestinal mucosa. In these cases, intestinal bacteria can get into the blood. The body is usually no longer able to effectively fight off the pathogens because the cells in the bone marrow are attacked and no longer produce enough white blood cells.
The pathogens can therefore multiply very rapidly within a very short time, which can lead to severe sepsis and the resulting failure of one or more organs. In this case, there is an acute danger to life for the patient. Very high doses of radiation usually lead to the death of the person concerned in a timely manner.
When should you go to the doctor?
People whose working or living environment is exposed to high levels of radiation often suffer from various physical and mental ailments over time. Headaches, nausea, a general malaise or a decrease in physical and mental performance are indications that should be followed up. Changes in body weight, hair loss or irregularities in the female menstrual cycle must be presented to a doctor.
If men experience erectile dysfunction, it is necessary to determine the cause. If an existing desire to have children remains unfulfilled for several months, an investigation into the cause is indicated. Tiredness despite a restful night’s sleep and good sleep hygiene is a warning sign. If the symptoms persist for several weeks or months, a doctor is needed. If the irregularities increase, it is advisable to see a doctor immediately. Since high radiation exposure leads to the premature death of the person concerned, consultation with a doctor should be sought as soon as the first disturbances and abnormalities appear.
Changes in the appearance of the skin, swelling, growths or a diffuse sensation of pain are also among the complaints that should be examined more closely. If the risk of infection increases, if there is more inflammation or a general feeling of illness, the cause should be investigated. Exhaustion and a withdrawal from participation in social life are also signs of an existing irregularity.
Treatment & Therapy
Radiation sickness is primarily treated through blood transfusions or stem cell transplantation. This makes it possible to repair the damage in the blood and cells and prevent comorbidities from occurring. In addition, during the course of therapy, vitamin preparations are administered to accelerate blood regeneration.
Furthermore, the fluid and electrolyte loss is compensated, which is also done by appropriate preparations and infusions. Any skin damage that has occurred must be repaired at an early stage, since the organism is particularly susceptible to infectious diseases after radiation. For this reason, patients are usually treated with various medications, such as antibiotics and painkillers.
Since strong radiation can damage or even destroy the intestinal mucosa, which in turn causes intestinal bacteria to enter the bloodstream, the therapy also focuses to a large extent on restoring intestinal activity. The administration of medication is just as possible for this as operations and transplantations.
Radiation sickness can be prevented by avoiding contact with radioactive materials. If contact occurs, immediate decontamination, meaning removal of the radioactive contamination, can result in faster recovery. Iodine is also given to relieve the thyroid gland and prevent radioactive iodine from building up. There are no other ways to prevent radiation sickness.
Radiation sickness itself can be fatal and depends on the dose of X-ray or gamma radiation the patient is exposed to. Follow-up care is primarily aimed at identifying long-term effects on the patient’s body, treating them appropriately and preventing deterioration of the general condition. If the radiation dose is relatively low, a relatively small long-term consequence or even complete recovery can be assumed after the acute radiation sickness.
The higher the radiation dose, the longer the recovery period. The chance of a complete cure also decreases here. The administration of vitamin preparations and building products in the aftercare phase can take place over the long term. Follow-up care is not possible in the case of severe to severe radiation sickness. Only palliative (i.e. symptom-relieving) treatment is conceivable here, since the patient dies within a certain period of time.
In the case of mild radiation sickness, continuous follow-up care is required, which includes regular monitoring of blood parameters. In addition, preventive medical check-ups must be carried out, which identify long-term consequences, such as cancer, at an early stage and enable the patient to be treated adequately.
The patient can suffer from so-called “fatigue” in the long term, this is a state of exhaustion that occurs as a result of radiation sickness and often lasts for years. Accompanying therapeutic measures are to be taken here in the aftercare of the radiation sickness itself.
You can do that yourself
In everyday life, care should be taken not to visit environments or regions where increased radiation occurs. If anything is unclear, appropriate measuring devices should be used to avoid complications. As soon as health impairments appear that can be traced back to radiation, cooperation with a doctor is necessary.
If radiation sickness is diagnosed, the person affected should take various measures to support their body in coping with the disease in the best possible way. Situations of physical or mental overexertion should therefore be avoided as a matter of principle. These have a negative effect on the functionality of the body. During sports activities, the body’s specifications must also be observed. If the person concerned notices that he is reaching his limits, sufficient rest and protection is important.
A healthy and balanced diet should be eaten to improve well-being . Eating a diet rich in vitamins and avoiding high-fat meals can help prevent obesity. The consumption of harmful substances such as alcohol and nicotine should be avoided given the state of health of the person concerned. On the other hand, an optimal design of leisure activities and the development of joie de vivre is beneficial. Since the person concerned suffers from an increased risk of infection, it is important to ensure adequate protection, especially when the seasons change.