Harmful effects of radiation-Acute and Long-term


In this article, the author has explained What is radiation, sources of radiation and harmful effects of radiation.

What is radiation?

Radiation is a type of energy that travels through space as either electromagnetic waves or particles. It can be emitted by natural sources, like the sun and earth’s radioactive elements, as well as artificial sources, like medical diagnostics and treatments.

image showing sun emitting harmful radiations

Radiation is all around us. It is emitted from natural sources, like the sun and earth’s radioactive elements, as well as artificial sources, like medical diagnostics and treatments. While radiation can have harmful effects on humans, it is also necessary for many aspects of life. This post will explore the harmful effects of radiation on humans and provide some tips for minimizing exposure.

What are some sources of harmful radiation?

Some common sources of artificial radiation include dental X-rays, medical X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, fluoroscopy/bronchoscopy with iodinated contrast media, nuclear medicine tests using radioactive substances, and therapeutic radiation.

Harmful effects of radiation

There are two different forms of harmful effects: acute and long-term.

Acute exposure to high levels of radiation can cause skin burns and severe damage to the nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, bones, liver, kidneys, and other organs.

Long-term exposure is also known as chronic exposure or low dose exposure. It does not cause immediate health effects but instead works slowly by increasing your risk of developing cancer over time.

How can I minimize my exposure to harmful radiation?

There are several ways to reduce your exposure to radiation:

  • Avoid unnecessary medical and dental X-rays.
  • If you need a medical or dental X-ray, ask your doctor or dentist if it is really necessary.
  • Get a copy of all your past medical and dental X-rays so you can share them with other health care professionals.
  • Consider having a lower dose CT scan or avoiding it altogether.
  • Choose procedures that use less radiation, like ultrasound or MRI instead of CT scans.
  • Avoid having procedures that use contrast media unless absolutely necessary.
  • Minimize your time in the sun and avoid sunburns.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 in order to absorb or reflect UV radiation before it damages skin cells.
  • Cover your head and skin in the sun when possible, including wearing a shirt, pants, sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat.
  • Limit your use of cell phones since the radiofrequency energy they produce has been shown to have potentially harmful biological effects on humans by increasing heat in tissues closest to where people hold their phones when they are turned on.

FAQs about harmful effects of radiation on humans

Q: What is the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation?

A: While both types can harm humans, the main difference is that ionizing causes enough harm to break molecular bonds. This ionizing radiation can cause either direct or indirect damage to cells, sub-cellular structures, chromosomes, genes, and molecules. Non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to break molecular bonds.

Q: How are humans exposed to harmful levels of radiation?

A: Humans are mostly exposed through medical procedures that use large doses of radiation or machines that emit high amounts of artificial radiation for security reasons. We may also be exposed to our own devices, like cell phones and microwaves, which do not give off enough exposure to cause acute health effects but over time may contribute to the development of cancerous cells in the body.

Q: What are some examples of harmful effects caused by exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation?

A: The primary concern with long-term exposure is cancer development after very many years. In general, if someone receives a large dose immediately – like from a nuclear blast – there is more damage caused than if they receive a lower dose over time. Some other health effects include cataracts, radiation sickness, and genetic damage.

Q: Are there any immediate symptoms of harmful radiation exposure?

A: Yes, there are several acute symptoms that can occur after exposure to high levels of radiation. These can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, skin burns, and general weakness. If you experience any of these symptoms after being exposed to radiation, seek medical help immediately.

Q: Can pregnant women be exposed to harmful radiation?

A: Yes, pregnant women can be exposed to harmful levels of radiation. Radiation is known to cause birth defects and other developmental problems in children. It is important for pregnant to take extra precautions to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to protect the health of their unborn baby.