Radiation Sickness - Medical Malpractice LawyersLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Radiation Sickness - Medical Malpractice
Radiation sickness is a condition in which you suffer from excessive exposure to what's called ionizing radiation. There are basically two types of radiation: nonionizing radiation and ionizing radiation. Nonionizing radiation comes out of microwaves, radar, radio waves and light waves. They tend not to cause any form of tissue damage unless the exposure is great. Ionizing radiation, on the other hand, includes wavelengths of light that change the chemical composition of human tissue. Ionizing radiation includes x-rays, particle bombardment such as neutron beam, protons, electron beam, mesons, etc., and gamma rays. These types of radiation can be safely utilized in medical testing, industry and manufacturing, weapons, weapons development and other uses.
Radiation sickness comes out of exposure to large amounts of ionizing radiation. The exposure can be acute over a short period of time with high dose radiation. Exposure can be chronic and can occur due to a long term exposure of smaller amounts of radiation. Exposure can be accidental or non accidental due to radiation therapy. Radiation sickness which is acute generally proceeds in an orderly and specific fashion. Chronic injuries are associated with long term exposure and include cancerous changes in the body and premature aging. The risk of getting cancer can happen with extremely small doses of ionizing radiation.
Exposure from gamma rays or x-rays is measured in roentgen units. A total body exposure of 100 roentgens per rad or 1 Gy can cause some degree of radiation sickness. An exposure to the body of 400 roentgens per rad or 4 Gy can cause death in half of all individuals exposed. Anything more than this can cause death in practically anyone without medical treatment. Death occurs in about 30 days or less. Doses of 100,000 roentgens/rad or 1000 Gy will cause immediate unconsciousness and death within the hour.
The type and amount of radiation received determines the severity of the illness. The length of time of exposure and the part of the body exposed also determines what kinds of symptoms you'll get and how severe the symptoms will be. You can get immediate symptoms or symptoms occurring over days, weeks or even months post-exposure. The bone marrow and the GI tract are most sensitive to injury by radiation. Children, neonates and foetuses are most sensitive to radiation injury.
It is sometimes hard to tell the exact amount of exposure with situations of nuclear accidents. The best way to know is to determine whether or not the person has vomited within an hour of the exposure time. This usually means the exposure to radiation was very high and death is expected to occur from the exposure. Children receiving radiation treatments or who have an accidental exposure to radiation are followed with white and red blood cell counts. If the count gets low, blood transfusions may be necessary and it is expected that the dose of radiation was high.
Causes of ionizing radiation exposure include accidental exposure to those living near nuclear power plants. There can also be planned exposure due to ionizing radiation given during medical treatments for cancer or other diseases.
The symptoms of ionizing radiation sickness include bloody stools, bleeding from the nose, mouth or gums, bruising, confusion, diarrhoea, dehydration, fatigue, fainting, hair loss, fever, inflamed skin, nausea and vomiting, mouth ulcers, burns on the skin or open sores on the skin, sloughing off of tissue, vomiting blood, weakness, and oesophageal, stomach or intestinal ulcers.
The treatment of ionizing radiation sickness includes blood transfusions to treat anaemia, medications to control nausea and vomiting, and medications for pain. Sometimes antibiotics are used to treat infections that might occur. Basic first aid includes CPR if necessary, removing contaminated clothing, washing the body vigorously with water and soap, and reporting the exposure to officials who understand this process better.
You should stay away from the exposure area and remove victims from the area as soon as possible. You shouldn't apply ointments to the burns and remove your own contaminated clothing. This is a medical emergency that needs a doctor's care.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here