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Extreme Radiation Sickness - Symptoms of Extreme Acute Radiation Poisoning

Updated on July 7, 2015

Symptoms of Radiation Poisoning

Radiation poisoning symptoms

Many people are panicking over the fear of Acute Radiation Poisoning from the current nuclear disaster that is occurring in Soma, Japan at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. However, the likelihood of above normal exposure for those of us who are not in Japan are slim. Even those on the island of Japan are not likely to be exposed to the levels of radiation that were released in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

2.4 millisierverts 
Average natural yearly exposure 
10.0 millisierverts 
Average exposure in full body CT scan 
20.0 millisierverts
Recommended limit for yearly exposure 
100.0 millisierverts
Lowest yearly exposure at which an increase in cancer is evident
350.0 millisierverts
Level of exposure for those relocated after Chernobyl
400.0 millisierverts
Highest recorded levels after Fukushima Dai-Ichi explosions

Symptoms of Acute Radiation Poisoning

Signs of radiation poisoning

Symptoms of radiation sickness can range from mild to the most severe being death. The average person is exposed to about 2.0 millisierverts of radiation annualy through natural exposure. These low levels would be very unlikely to lead to any symptoms of radiation sickness. Radiation sickness or Acute Radiation Poisoning is most commonly associated with an acute (single large) exposure to radiation or radiactive material.

The symptoms of radiation poisoning become more severe as the levels of exposure increase. With that, as the level of exposure increases, the chance of survival without immediate medical attention decreases. Nausea and vomiting are the most common symptoms and typically occur first. How quickly these symptoms appear in reference to the time of exposure is a good indication of the severity of the exposure.

Radiation sickness symptoms

With nauseau and vomiting, may also come diarrhea, as radiation sickness can damage lining of the intestinal tract. Headache, fatigue, and muscle weakness are also associated with mild radiation exposure.

In severe cases of radiation poisoning, attributed to extreme exposure to large doses or radiation, nauseau and vomiting occur within minutes of exposure, followed by dizziness, disorientation, and a decrease in blood pressure. Many also start to show skin damage immediately with the appearance of redness, swelling, and itching. With severe exposure to radioactive material, there is a 50% or higher chance of death.

Effects of long-term exposure to radiation include hair loss, sepsis, and increase liklihood for cancer.

Protect against radiation sickness

Radiation poisoning treatment

The majority of people will never have to worry about severe radiation poisoning as most of us will never be exposed to extreme doses of radiation in a single dose, let alone a long period of time.

However, there are a few things one can do to protect themselves from radiation poisoning if one finds themselves in danger of being exposed to large amounts.

Some experts recommend that in the event of potential extreme radiation exposure one should take potassium iodide tablets. If the tablets are not available, one can also administer potassium iodide in solution form. The typical potassium iodide solution is formulated with 1000mg of KI (potassium iodide) per one mL (milliliter) of solution. This solution formula is equivalent to one 130 mg tablet of potassium iodide.

For more information on how to protect yourself against radiation, please click on the article link below.


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