The symptoms and effects of radiation and radiation exposure

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl is a black page in the history of mankind, associated with atomic explosions. Among the affected population have been negative radiation effects. The effect of ionizing radiation has an acute character, when in a short time destroys the body, and death, or chronic (exposure in small doses). The third type of influence is long – term. It causes genetic effects of radiation.

The impact of ionizing particles is different. In small doses, radioactivity is used in medicine to combat cancer. But they almost always have a negative effect on health. Small doses of atomic particles are catalysts (accelerators) for the development of cancer and damage genetic material. Large doses lead to partial or complete destruction of cells, tissues and the whole organism. The difficulty in monitoring and tracking of pathological changes is that when you receive small doses of radiation the symptoms. The consequences can appear after years or even decades.

Radiation effects of radiation exposure people have these consequences:

  • Mutation.
  • Cancer of thyroid, leukemia, breast, lung, stomach, intestine.
  • Hereditary disorders and the genetic code.
  • The metabolic and hormonal balance.
  • The vision loss (cataracts), nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels.
  • Accelerated aging process.
  • The sterility of the ovaries in women.
  • Dementia.
  • Mental and intellectual development.

The way and the degree of exposure

Human exposure occurs in two ways – external and internal.

External radiation received by the body comes from radiating objects:

  • space;
  • radioactive waste;
  • the testing of nuclear weapons;
  • natural radiation of the atmosphere and soil.
  • accidents and leaks at nuclear reactors.

Internal radiation exposure occurs from inside the body. Radiation particles are contained in foods that people consume (up to 97%), and in small quantities in water and air. In order to understand what happens to a person after exposure to radiation, it is necessary to understand the mechanism of its action.

Powerful radiation causes the body process of ionization. This means that in cells generates free radicals – atoms that lack electrons. To fill the missing particle, free radicals take it from the neighboring atoms. So there is a chain reaction. This process leads to disruption of the integrity of DNA molecules and cells. As a result, the development of abnormal cells (cancer), massive cell death, genetic mutations.

Radiation dose in Gy (gray) and their consequences:

  • 0,0007-0,002 – norm of the receive radiation;
  • 0,05 – maximum permissible dose for a person;
  • 0,1 – dose at which the risk of gene mutations is doubled;
  • 0,25 – maximum permissible single dose in emergency conditions;
  • 1.0 – acute radiation sickness;
  • 3-5 – ½ affected by radiation dies within the first two months because of the injury to the bone marrow and, as a consequence, disorders of hematopoiesis;
  • 10-50 – death occurs within 10-14 days because of the defeat of the gastrointestinal tract (the gastrointestinal tract);
  • 100 death in the early hours, sometimes 2-3 days because of damage to the CNS (Central nervous system).

Lesion classification in case of irradiation

Radiation radiation causes damage to the intracellular apparatus and functions of cells, which subsequently causes their death. The most sensitive cells that divide rapidly – white blood cells, the intestinal epithelium, skin, hair, nails. More resistant to radiation hepatocytes (liver), cardiolite (heart) and nephrons (kidneys).

Radiation effects of radiation

Somatic effects:

  • acute and chronic radiation sickness;
  • eye damage (cataracts);
  • radiation burns;
  • atrophy and compaction of the irradiated areas of the skin, blood vessels, and lungs;
  • fibrosis (the expansion) and multiple sclerosis (replacement of connective structure) soft tissue;
  • reduction of the number of the cells;
  • dysfunction of fibroblasts (the matrix cells, based upon its appearance and development).

Somatic-stochastic effects:

  • tumors of internal organs;
  • malignant changes in the blood;
  • mental retardation;
  • birth defects and abnormalities;
  • cancer in the fetus due to the radiation;
  • the reduced life expectancy.

Genetic effects:

  • change of heredity;
  • dominant and recessive gene mutations;
  • chromosome rearrangements (changes in the number and structure of chromosomes).

Symptoms of radiation injury

Symptoms of radiation exposure depend primarily on radioactive doses, as well as the area affected, and duration of single exposure. Children are more susceptible to radiation. If a person has such internal diseases as diabetes, autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus), it will exacerbate the effects of radioactive particles.

A single radiation dose causes greater injury than the same dose but received within a fewdays, weeks, or months.

Single exposure high dose or when you lose a large area of the skin develop pathological syndromes.

Cerebrovascular syndrome

These are signs of radiation exposure associated with damage of cerebral vessels and cerebral circulation. The lumen of the vessel narrows, the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain is restricted.


  • hemorrhage in the cerebellum – vomiting, headache, loss of coordination, strabismus in the affected side;
  • hemorrhage in bridge eyes don't move to the sides, located just in the middle, the pupils do not dilate response to light is weak;
  • bleeding in the thalamus – complete paralysis of half of the body, the pupils do not react to light, eyes lowered to the nose, the outcome is always fatal;
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage – abrupt intensive pain in the head, aggravated by any physical movements, vomiting, fever, changing heart rhythms, fluid accumulation in the brain with subsequent edema, seizures, repeated hemorrhages;
  • thrombotic stroke – a violation of the sensitivity, deviation of eyes toward lesion, urinary incontinence, loss of coordination and focus of movements, mental retardation, a steady repetition of phrases or movements, amnesia.

Gastrointestinal syndrome

Occurs if a person is irradiated with a dose of 8-10 Gy. It is typical for patients with 4th degree of acute radiation sickness. Manifested not earlier than 5 days.


  • nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting;
  • bloating, intense diarrhea;
  • violation of water-salt balance.

Subsequently developing necrosis – necrosis of the intestinal mucosa, further sepsis.

The syndrome of infectious complications

This condition develops due to disorders of the blood, as a consequence, lowering of natural immunity. Increases the risk of exogenous (external) infection.

Complications of radiation sickness:

  • the mouth – stomatitis, gingivitis;
  • respiratory organs tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia;
  • Gastrointestinal tract – enteritis;
  • radiation sepsis – enhanced geobrowse on the skin and internal organs appear pustules.

Oropharyngeal syndrome

Is ulcerative bleeding lesion of soft tissues of the oral and nasal cavity. The victim edematous mucosa, cheeks, tongue. The gums become loose.


  • severe pain in the mouth, when swallowing;
  • producing a lot of viscous mucus;
  • respiratory failure;
  • development of Pulmonata (lesion of the alveoli of the lungs), shortness of breath, wheezing, ventilation failure.

Hemorrhagic syndrome

Determines the severity and outcome of radiation sickness. Disturbed blood clotting, blood vessel walls become permeable.

Symptoms – in mild cases, small petechial hemorrhages in the mouth, the anus, on the inner side of the tibia. In severe cases, exposure to radiation causes massive bleeding from the gums, uterus, stomach, lungs.

Radiation injury of the skin

In small doses, develops erythema – severe redness of the skin due to the expansion of blood vessels later observed necrotic changes. Six months after irradiation, pigmentation, growth of connective tissue, appear resistant telangiectasia – the expansion of capillaries.

Human skin after radiation atrophy, becoming thin, and easily damaged by mechanical action. Radiation burns to the skin is not curable. The skin does not heal and is very painful.

Genetic mutations from radiation

Another signs of radiation exposure is genetic mutations, disruption of the structure of DNA, one of its executives. Such insignificant at first glance, the change can lead to serious consequences. Gene mutations irreversibly alter the state of the body and in most cases lead to his death. The mutant gene that causes these diseases – color blindness, idiopathy, albinism. Manifest in the first generation.

Chromosomal mutations – changes in the size, number and organization of chromosomes. There is a rearrangement of their parts. They directly affect the growth, development and functionality of the internal organs. Carriers of chromosomal breakages die in childhood.

The effects of radiation exposure on a global scale:

  1. The falling birth rate, the worsening of the demographic situation.
  2. The rapid growth of cancer pathology among the population.
  3. The trend of deterioration of children's health.
  4. Serious violations of the immune status among pediatric population, which is in the zones of influence of radiation.
  5. A significant reduction in average life expectancy.
  6. Genetic malfunctions and mutations.

A significant part of the changes caused by the influence of radioactive particles is irreversible.

The risk of cancer after irradiation is directly proportional to the radiation dose. Radiation even in small doses adversely affects the health and functioning of internal organs. People often attributed their condition to chronic fatigue syndrome. Therefore, after diagnostic or therapeutic interventions involving exposure, it is necessary to take measures for its removal from the body and strengthen the immune system.