Part Two: The Biologic Effects of Radiation
The biological effects of radiation are dependent upon the type of exposure a person actually has. Simply stated, the duration of the exposure as well as the intensity of the material play a role. We also have to include the role of personal protection such as Time, Distance, Shielding and its effectiveness.
Biologic effects can be categorized generically as acute or chronic. Acute exposure may be for a very short period of time to a higher level radiation source while chronic exposure can either be in extended exposure to low-level source or repetitive exposures to a variety of sources of radiation.
One variable that we have to account for his individual biological differences. Each person is different and will respond differently to radiation exposure… unless it is an extremely high-level of exposure.
In general, radiation causes three major problems in our bodies.
- Radiation can damage DNA and other cellular structures
- Radiation exposure results in cell death… immediately or shortly after exposure
- Radiation exposure results in incorrect cellular repair and mutations that can cause cancer and other disease
- age- Younger patients and those with a higher metabolism and cell turnover rate are more susceptible.
- body temperature and overall health
- nonspecific (flu-like symptoms)
- hair loss
- skin irritation
- vascular changes
- blood cell changes
Acute radiation sickness has four phases and may manifest with four separate syndromes.
The four phases of acute radiation sickness are:
- prodromal phase
- latent phase
- manifest phase (sometimes called the period of illness)
- and recovery or death
- Hematopoietic Syndrome
- gastrointestinal syndrome
- cardiovascular syndrome
- and central nervous system syndrome
Links and References
You'll also find these links and references useful. I've used them, in part and along with references, to put this series together. Again, the complete bibliography will be posted along with the final installment of the series.
Radiation Injury Treatment Network
Radiation Emergency Medical Treatment (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
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