Radiation Sickness


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Radiation sickness (also called acute radiation syndrome) happens when a person is exposed to large amounts of radiation all at once.

Exposure to small amounts of radiation-like from an X-ray or CT scan-doesn't cause any symptoms. But exposure to large amounts of radiation all at once-like from a nuclear accident-may cause radiation sickness and death.

Symptoms of radiation sickness may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy.
  • Hair loss.
  • Skin redness, itching, swelling, or burns.
  • Pain.
  • Seizures.

People who have been exposed to large amounts of radiation and have these symptoms need to see a doctor right away.

Current as of: July 5, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & R. Steven Tharratt, MD, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine