Difference between Radiation Sickness and Radiation Poisoning
Although it is rare that the general public is exposed to radiation, it is still important to be as informed about radiation sickness and radiation poisoning. In the wake of the recent tragedy that has struck Japan–its nuclear facilities in particular–it is now more important than ever to be aware of the implications of these debilitating and potentially life-threatening conditions. This comparison article delves into the details of radiation sickness and radiation poisoning.
Radiation sickness and radiation poisoning both basically refer to the same condition, which is more formally known as acute radiation syndrome or ARS. Another term for the condition is radiation toxicity, and this refers to the range of effects that occur within several months of exposure to sufficiently high amounts of ionizing radiation. Radiation sickness and radiation poisoning also generally refer to symptoms that show up immediately, as opposed to those that occur after a long period.
The type and occurrence of the symptoms of radiation sickness and radiation poisoning typically depend on the amount of radiation that the person receives. In cases of smaller radiation doses, some of the more common effects are nausea, vomiting and conditions that result from lower blood counts such as infection and bleeding. Larger doses of radiation can cause a number of neurological effects and even death. The treatment of radiation sickness and radiation poisoning generally involves blood transfusions and the administration of antibiotics.
There are many situations that may result in radiation sickness and radiation poisoning. In most cases, these conditions are caused by a single large exposure to radiation. One of the most common causes is external exposure, which occurs when the contaminant is outside and remains outside the person. This may be caused by carrying radioactive material in the clothes, exposure to cosmic rays in outer space, and treatment for cancer by teletherapy or brachytherapy.
Radiation sickness and radiation poisoning may also result from thermal burns and gamma burns from nuclear weapons. In some cases, internal radiation poisoning may also occur when fallout particles are ingested.
During space flights beyond the low point of the Earth’s orbit, astronauts are typically exposed to galactic cosmic radiation and even radiation from solar particle events. This is another potential cause of radiation poisoning.
Radiation poisoning may also occur internally, in which case the radioactive material does enter the body, with the radioactive atoms merging with the cells in the body. The condition may also occur as a result of ingestion and inhalation of radioactive matter. When this occurs, the results are often different from those experienced with external radiation exposure.
Radiation sickness/radiation poisoning
- More formally known as acute radiation syndrome or ARS
- Symptoms of radiation sickness and radiation poisoning typically depend on the amount of radiation that the person receives
- Smaller doses may result in nausea, vomiting, infection and bleeding
- Larger doses of radiation can cause a number of neurological effects and even death