Radiation sickness is damage to your body caused by a large dose of radiation often received over a short period of time (acute). The amount of radiation absorbed by the body — the absorbed dose — determines how sick you'll be.
Radiation sickness is also called acute radiation sickness, acute radiation syndrome or radiation poisoning. Common exposures to low-dose radiation, such as X-ray or CT examinations, don't cause radiation sickness.
Although radiation sickness is serious and often fatal, it's rare. Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, most cases of radiation sickness have occurred after nuclear industrial accidents such as the 1986 fire that damaged the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl or the 2011 earthquake that damaged the nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan.
Oct. 06, 2012
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed June 5, 2012.
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..X0001-1--TOP&isbn=978-0-
- 323-05472-0&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed June 5, 2012..
- Radiation exposure and contamination. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/radiation_exposure_and_contamination/radiation_exposure_and_contamination.html?qt=radiation%20exposure&alt=sh. Accessed June 5, 2012.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
- Lin EC. Radiation risk from medical imaging. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:2042.
- Christodouleas JP, et al. Short-term and long-term health risks of nuclear-power-plant accidents. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;364:2334.
- Cardis E, et al. The Chernobyl accident — An epidemiological perspective. Clinical Oncology. 2011;23:251.
- Radiation emergencies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/. Accessed June 5, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.