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Radiation Sickness

Radiation Sickness

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.

Last Revised: October 8, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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