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Acute Radiation Syndrome

April 6, 2011

With the advent of the Japanese disaster in Fukushima the potential for radiation illness in the United States of American as well as the pan Pacific, Hawaii and Alaska becomes very real.  Acute radiation syndrome, also known as radiation poisoning is a group of effects which occur several months after there is exposure to ionized radiation.  Immediate exposure to radiation will cause death and prolonged exposure to radiation will ultimately cause death.  The measure of poisoning is the millisieverts.

Small doses of radiation generally result in gastrointestinal problems which include nausea and vomiting and symptoms related to a decrease in blood counts creating generally bleeding.  Chronic changes due to long term exposure create blood dyscrasia or blood diseases and can ultimately lead to cancer tumors, prolonged bleeding diseases and possibly blood cancers.

Radiation symptoms and signs are separated into three categories: hematopoietic, gastrointestinal and neurologic and vascular.  Hematopoietic means blood-borne.  Hematopoietic is marked by a drop in blood cells which can result in infection, low blood cells or low platelets leading to bleeding.  Gastrointestinal, which can be moderate exposure leads to nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and this can be seen within two to three hours of exposure.  Neurovascular changes which is necessitated by higher doses of radiation presents with dizziness, headaches and possibly loss of consciousness.  Other manifestations include skin, which can result in cutaneous radiation syndrome and this happens within a few hours of being irradiated.  This can lead to red skin, itching, blistering, ulceration and necrosis of skin as well as skin cancers with long term exposure.

With this radiation exposure from Japan evaluation of food sources including water, fish, grains, etc. needs to be well monitored and any potential for radiation in the food sources need to be quickly addressed.

If you have any specific questions, please address them to the U.S. Center for Sports Medicine.  We are very concerned about the levels of radiation and are being extremely proactive in monitoring levels in fish, water and grain sources.


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