Radiation Sickness (radiation poisoning) is a rare condition that is caused by excessive doses of ionizing radiation. Acute radiation sickness results in immediate chemical damage to internal and external tissues. Chronic radiation sickness occurs over a period of time when regularly exposed to reduced levels.
Both can occur deliberately or accidentally and may be a result of x-rays, gamma rays, industrial accidents, cancer treatment, weapons manufacturing or usage and other sources of ionizing radiation. The risk of cancer, premature aging, serious injury and death increases as radiation levels build in the system. The severity of exposure is determined according to when it occurred, symptoms, how quickly they appeared and white blood cell count.
The symptoms of radiation sickness and their severity depend on the level of exposure. Symptoms may include:
If vomiting occurs within an hour after exposure, death from radiation exposure may be imminent. Rescue workers must wear protective gear to avoid contamination. Treatment for radiation sickness depends on the symptoms and severity and may include: