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Types of Radiation Sickness With Causal Conditions and Theraphy

Updated on April 4, 2011

The radiation poisoning (also called bad-ray, radiation sickness, or more properly in clinical acute radiation syndrome) describes a set of symptoms resulting from a potentially lethal exposure of biological tissues of a considerable part of the human body to a strong dose of ionizing radiation.

Poisoning is usually seen in a prodromal phase is not lethal in minutes or hours following irradiation. This phase lasts from several hours to several days and often manifests itself with symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, erythema. After a period of latency, in which the subject appears in good condition. Finally comes the acute phase, which is manifested by a sintomologia complex, usually with skin disorders, hematopoietic, gastrointestinal, respiratory and cerebro-vascular diseases.



The sources of natural radiation are usually not powerful enough to cause the syndrome, which is often caused by human activities, such as a nuclear accident, exposure to a radioactive source or an atomic explosion. The alpha radiation has a low penetration power, so it is not dangerous for humans in case of external irradiation. It becomes dangerous in situations where the radioactive source is inhaled or ingested (internal radiation) because in this case may directly affect radiosensitive tissues (typical case is the fact that radon is inhaled and the radioactive isotope may be void in so the human body by emitting alpha radiation). The gamma radiation (consisting of high energy photons) instead of having a very high penetrating power, can be dangerous to living things, even under external irradiation. The amount of radiation absorbed by a body called the absorbed dose and is measured in gray. Other important variables to consider are the equivalent dose and effective dose.


Table that correlates the levels of exposure to the symptoms

In the United States of America was prepared to fork "ALI (Annual Limit on Intake) or" in the Annual Dose Limit "which is derived a limit to the amount of radioactive material absorbed into the body of an adult worker by inhalation that is if swallowed in one year. ALI is the smaller allowable intake of a given radionuclide in a year, took the man of reference, which would cause damage equivalent to that of a single radiation dose of 5 rem (0.05 Sievert) or damage equivalent radiation of a single organ with 50 rem (0.5 Sv) to any organ or tissue specific. The dose-equivalent are currently specified in sievert (Sv):

from 0.001 to 0.01 Sv (0.1 to 1 rem)

It is estimated that physiologically the body is exposed to 0.1 millirem in 24 hours (approximately 0.036 rem per year): This is the dose eliminated, the essential issues that radioactive potassium-40, present within each cell human body from radiating throughout the day . Eliminating the potassium would cause death by congestive edema, hypertension and muscle weakness, in addition to heart failure. Each hour of scheduled air flight , the maximum altitude of 10,000 m usual, bring the body to radiation from 0.3 to 1 millirem per hour (maximum in the Concorde flying at 20,000 m) and So 10 hours of flying intercontinental match 3 millirem, and 100 flights per year, comprising at 0.300 rem / year . The dose is divided, and therefore should not induce chromosome breakage and less stress by oxygen free radicals.

from 0.05 to 0.2 Sv (5 to 20 rem)

No symptoms. Some researchers claim that small doses of radiation may be beneficial. In the U.S. there is a federal limit of 50 mSv per year, which was specified for workers exposed to radioactive substances and procedures. In the UK the annual limit for a worker classified as an "operator with radiation" is 20 mSv. In Canada and Brazil, the maximum annual limit is 50 mSv (5,000 millirem), but the maximum dose that can be taken in 5 years is only 100 mSv. Usually the limits specified by the private companies are much closer, so as to avoid any accidental infringement of federal limits .

0.2 to 0.5 Sv (20 to 50 rem)

No apparent symptoms. The white blood cell count decreases temporarily.

0.5 to 1 Sv (50 to 100 rem)

Disease-ray light with a slight headache and increased risk of infection caused by alterations in the immune system. Possible temporary male infertility.

1 to 2 Sv (100 to 200 rem)

The 'slightly radioactive poisoning ", involves a 10% mortality after 30 days (LD 10/30). Typical symptoms include nausea, mild to moderate (with a 50% probability at 2 Sv), with occasional vomiting, beginning 3 to 6 hours after irradiation and lasts for about a day. This episode is followed by a latent phase that lasts from 10 to 14 days, when they appear mild symptoms of fatigue and malaise (with a 50% chance to 2 Sv). The immune system is exposed to depression, which causes an extended recovery period for many common infections and an increased risk of opportunistic infection. In the male sterility is common temporary. The miscarriage or the increased incidence of premature birth occurs commonly in pregnant women.

2 to 3 Sv (200 to 300 rem)

The 'radioactive poisoning moderate "results in a mortality of 35% after 30 days (LD 35/30). The constant nausea is common (in 100% of patients at 3 Sv), with a 50% risk of vomiting at 2.8 Sv continuous symptoms begin 1 to 6 hours after irradiation and last for 1 to 2 days . After that, there is a latent phase that lasts from 7 to 14 days, ending with the appearance of sitomi following: loss of hair and fur all over his body (with a 50% probability at 3 Sv), fatigue and malaise . There is a loss of white blood cell mass, which increases the risk for infection (comparable to the most serious stage of AIDS). There is the possibility of permanent sterility in females. The recovery, for a possible and eventual recovery requires several months.

3 to 4 Sv (300 to 400 rem)

The 'radioactive poisoning serious "implies a 50% mortality after 30 days (LD 50/30). Minor symptoms (such as hair loss and hair) that are similar to those of the dose of 2 to 3 Sievert, but along with these uncontrollable bleeding from the mouth, bleeding under the skin (petechiae) and bleeding kidney (with a 50% chance at 4 Sv), after a short lag phase. Anatoly Dyatlov received a dose of 390 rem during the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. He died of heart failure in 1995, nine years after the accident. It is possible that the massive doses of radiation have affected his health.

4 to 6 Sv (from 400 to 600 rem)

The 'acute radiation poisoning, "involves a 60% mortality after 30 days (LD 60/30). The mortality rose from 60% to 4.5 Sv up to 90% at 6 Sv (unless the patient is placed under a critical care). The intense symptoms begin about one hour to two hours after irradiation and last up to 2 days. After this, there is a latent phase that lasts from 7 to 14 days, after which symptoms appear similar to those of 3-4 Sv irradiation, with increased intensity. The final female infertility is very common at this point. The recovery requires several months to a year. The main cause of death (usually from 2 to 12 weeks after irradiation) are infections and internal bleeding. Harry K. Daghlian, an Armenian-American nuclear physicist for 24 years, was irradiated with 510 rem (5.1 Sv) of radiation Aug. 21, 1945, during an experiment of critical mass. At the time worked in the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The irradiation caused the death of the scientist after 28 days.

6 to 10 Sv (from 600 to 1,000 rem)

The 'acute radiation poisoning, "implies a 100% mortality after 14 days (LD 100/14). The survival depends on the medical ICU. The bone marrow is totally destroyed, so to ensure a fair chance of life is essential to bone marrow transplantation. The gastric and intestinal tissue are severely damaged. Symptoms begin 15 to 30 minutes after irradiation and last up to 2 days. As a result there is a latent phase that lasts from 5 to 10 days, after which the person dies of infection or internal bleeding. In the few cases that recover, healing requires several years and will probably never be complete. The farmer Devair Brazilian Alves Ferreira received a dose of about 7.0 Sv (700 rem) during the Goiânia accident, but managed to survive, perhaps in part because the dose was fractionated.

10 to 50 Sv (from 1,000 to 5,000 rem)

The 'acute radioactive poisoning ", involves a 100% mortality after 7 days (LD 100 / 7). Such high exposure leads to the onset of spontaneous symptoms in a time ranging from 5 to 30 min. After an intense fatigue and immediate nausea caused by activation of direct chemical receptors in the brain (caused by free radicals, metabolites and abnormal proteins generated by irradiation), we have a period of several days of relative comfort, called latent phase (or "phase of the ghost who walks"). After this week, there is a massive cell death in gastric and intestinal tissue, causing massive diarrhea, intestinal bleeding and loss of water, leading to fluid and electrolyte imbalance. Death occurs after a few hours of delirium and coma due to poor circulation. In most cases, death is inevitable, the only treatment that can be offered is that of pain management. Louis Slotin was exposed to approximately 21 Sv in a criticality accident May 21, 1946, and died nine days later, on May 30.

During the explosion of an atomic bomb becomes unlikely to receive a dose greater than this: patients exposed to higher doses usually die within a few days for the immediate effects of burns to the skin produced by radiation in infrared and visible light or for bruises and debris produced by the displacement of air caused by the explosion .

more than 50 Sv (> 5000 rem)

In the U.S. state of Rhode Island, a worker received more than 100 Sv (10,000 rem), after an incident in Wood River, July 24, 1964. The survival was 49 hours. Cecil Kelley, an operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, received in an accident between 60 and 180 Sv (6000-18000 rem) in the upper body and died 30 December 1958, surviving for 36 hours .

Comparison with its insect resistance

An episode of the program via satellite Myths (the Sky) insects exposed to gamma rays (the source was the isotope Cobalt-60) in a laboratory of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. A 10,000 rad, approximately 70% of the cockroaches were dead before 30 days, and 30% survived. A 100,000 rad, all the cockroaches were killed instantly and 90% of the flour beetles were dead after 30 days, leaving only 10% of surviving insects .


The unit of rad (radiation absorbed dose from English, the acronym RAD) is a measure, rather obsolete, which calculates the radiation absorbed dose, equal to 10 mGy. To accurately determine the biological effects caused on the victim, the dose in rads must be multiplied by a 'quality factor' which depends on the type of ionizing radiation. Titrated with some processing is currently measured in REMS (from roentgen equivalent mammal, short man) . 100 rem = 1 sievert (Sv). The sievert (Sv) corresponds roughly to the lowest dose which kills 10% of people in 30 days.


Although ionizing radiation have been discovered in the late nineteenth century, the dangers of radioactivity and ionizing radiation were not immediately recognized. The acute effects of radiation were observed for the first time (x-rays) in 1896 when Nikola Tesla intentionally subjected his fingers to X-rays He published an accurate observations of burns developed, although attributed to ozone air rather than to direct damage by radiation. Later, the lesions healed spontaneously.

The genetic effects of radiation, including an increased risk of cancer, were recognized much later. In 1927 Hermann Joseph Muller published research showing genetic effects, the results obtained in this research, he received the Nobel Prize in 1946.

Before the biological effects of ionizing radiation was recognized, many doctors and companies had begun to market radioactive substances as "en: patent medicine" and "radioactive quackery." Among the various treatments proposals have included the enema radio, and mineral water containing radium, proposed as tonics to drink. Very soon, Marie Curie spoke out against these practices, warning that the overall effects and prolonged radiation on the human body were not well known. Following Marie Curie died of aplastic anemia caused by radiation dall'avvelenamento. Eben Byers, American high society celebrity, died in 1932 following the consumption of large amounts of radium, a habit that carried on for several years, his death caught the attention of public opinion, which began to wonder about the dangers posed by radiation. Already in the 30's, after a certain number of cases of osteonecrosis and after the death of many enthusiastic consumers, the products containing radium began to vanish from the shelves of pharmacists.

However, the dangers posed by radiation were not fully evaluated by scientists until a few years later. In 1945 and 1946, two U.S. atomic scientists were given lethal doses of radiation in response to critical incidents on two occasions. In both cases, the victims were working with large amounts of fissile material (uranium core of a nuclear detonation to act) without any shielding.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, caused different forms of radiation poisoning. Some victims received massive doses of gamma rays in the blast, other ingested water or food contaminated with particles of uranium or plutonium or fission products (cesium, iodine, strontium) during the following days. These civilians were used as guinea pigs in a kind of cruel experiment that allowed a greater understanding of its symptoms and dangers in the long term. Since 1986, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, has released an amount of radiation equal to 100 times that of Hiroshima , is another deadly experiment on the effect of radiation in the short period (mainly gamma rays) and long-term radioactive pollution of an area with plutonium . Currently, the cesium-137 (biological hazard because the same chemical group of sodium and potassium) is one of the most dangerous fission products released by the accident, given that its concentration is increasing in trees in the area.


There is currently no treatment that will reverse the effects of radiation, can cure the symptoms that are derived from exposure or infection (with antibiotics) resulted. In some cases, it makes use of preparations in which they are associated with thiamine hydrochloride and cyanocobalamin (substances that act antinevritica) with pyridoxine hydrochloride (substance detoxifying action).

Bone Marrow Transplant

In severe cases, which give rise to bone marrow aplasia, there shall be a bone marrow transplant. The donation is made from a living (often a sibling or parent) with a withdrawal and iliac bone marrow stem cells injected into the vein of the recipient


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    • profile image

      navy 3 years ago

      feeling really sad for the baby.may god save others from this

    • profile image

      that it so sad 5 years ago

      i wish i could of stoped it because im one of the poeple who was born with raditation

    • profile image

      Kelly Cook 6 years ago

      That's so sad! I wish we could have stopped it before it happened.

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      It makes you want to go live in a bubble. There are so many environmental causes for sickness and disease.

    • daffodil2010 profile image

      daffodil2010 6 years ago

      thanks for your comments

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi daffodil2010, thanks for sharing all this great information, i just hope we will never have to use it .

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      It's so scary and the picture says it all. Thanks for sharing such detailed information.

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      Fay Paxton 6 years ago

      Daffodil, this hub scared the bejeezuz out of me. I'm glad to get the information, though.