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Radiation Sickness

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is radiation sickness?

Radiation sickness develops when a person is exposed to high doses of radiation. It is also known as radiation toxicity, or acute radiation syndrome. A syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms that often happen together.

What are the stages of radiation sickness?

What signs and symptoms may happen with bone marrow syndrome?

Bone marrow syndrome (hematopoietic syndrome) happens when bone marrow cells are damaged or destroyed. Infection and severe bleeding can occur.

What signs and symptoms may happen with gastrointestinal (GI) syndrome?

GI syndrome happens when cells in your GI tract are destroyed.

What signs and symptoms may happen with cardiovascular (CV)/central nervous system (CNS) syndrome?

CV/CNS syndrome happens when your circulatory system or brain is affected. This syndrome causes your brain or blood vessels to swell.

What is cutaneous radiation syndrome?

Cutaneous (skin) radiation syndrome happens with many types of exposure to radiation. It can happen when skin becomes contaminated by radiation. Your skin will itch and become red and swollen within a few hours after exposure. The top layers of your skin will peel and the hair on your skin may fall out. Your skin will start to heal. Then your symptoms of itching, swelling, and redness will return. Complete healing may take up to a few years, depending on the dose of radiation.

How is radiation sickness treated?

Treatment goals include treating and preventing infections, keeping you hydrated, and treating injuries and burns. You may need medicines to help your bone marrow replace cells that have died. You may also need stem cell transfusions. Platelet transfusions may also be needed to help treat bleeding.

Where can I find more information?

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Further information

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