Effect on human X-rays
The discovery and merit in studying the basic properties of X-rays is rightfully due to the German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. Surprising properties of the X-rays discovered by him, immediately received a huge resonance in the scientific world. Although then, in the distant year of 1895, a scientist could hardly guess what benefit, and sometimes harm, X-rays could bring.
Let's find out in this article how this type of radiation affects human health.
What is X-ray
In the work published by Roentgen, the following information was provided:
- X-rays have a huge penetrating ability, depending on the wavelength of radiation, density and thickness of the layer of the irradiated material;
- they cause the glow of certain substances;
- X-rays affect living organisms;
- this radiation can be a catalyst for some photochemical reactions;
- X-rays are able to ionize atoms (ie, to detach electrons from neutral atoms).
The first question that interested the researcher - what is X-ray radiation? A number of experiments made it possible to verify that this electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of 8-10 cm, occupying an intermediate position between ultraviolet and gamma radiation.
Application of X-rays
All these aspects of the destructive impact of the mysterious X-rays do not at all exclude surprisingly extensive aspects of their application. Where is X-ray radiation applied?
- Study of the structure of molecules and crystals.
- X-ray flaw detection (in the industry detection of defects in products).
- Methods of medical research and therapy.
The most important applications of X-ray radiation have become possible, due to the very short lengths of the entire range of these waves and their unique properties.
Since we are interested in the effect of X-rays on people who encounter it only during medical examination or treatment, then we will only consider this field of X-ray application.
Application of X-rays in medicine
Despite the special significance of its discovery, X-ray did not take a patent for its use, making an invaluable gift for all mankind. Already in the First World War, X-ray machines began to be used, allowing quickly and accurately diagnose the wounded. Now we can distinguish two main areas of application of X-rays in medicine:
- X-ray diagnostics;
- X-ray therapy.
X-ray diagnostics is used in various versions:
fluoroscopy (radiographic examination);
- Radiography (snapshot);
- X-ray and computed tomography.
We will understand in difference of these methods.
- At fluoroscopy the patient is located between the X-ray tube and a special fluorescent screen. Radiologist selects the required rigidity of the rays and receives on the screen images of internal organs and edges.
- When radiographing the patient is placed on a cassette with special film. The X-ray apparatus is located above the object. On the film, a negative image of the internal organs is obtained, which contains finer details than with fluoroscopic examination.
Fluorography is used for mass medical examinations of the population. A special image is projected from a large screen.
- Tomography uses X-rays to obtain images of organs in several selected transverse tissue sections. The resulting series of X-ray images is called a tomogram.
- A computer tomogram records sections of the human body using an X-ray scanner. The data is recorded in a computer and gives a single image in a cross section.
All listed methods of diagnosis are based on the ability of X-rays to light the film and on their different permeability for tissues and bone skeleton.
The ability of X-rays to exert a biological effect on tissues, in medicine, is used to treat tumors. The ionizing effect of this radiation is most actively manifested in the effect on rapidly dividing cells, which are the cells of malignant tumors.
However, one should also be aware of the side effects that inevitably accompany X-ray therapy. The fact is that cells of hematopoietic, endocrine, immune systems are also rapidly dividing. Negative effects on them give rise to signs of radiation sickness.
The effect of X-rays on humans
Soon after the remarkable discovery of X-rays, it was discovered that X-rays exert an effect on a person.
- It turned out that the new radiation can cause a change in the skin, resembling a sunburn, but with deeper skin damage. In addition, these ulcers required a longer time to heal. Ignorance of the possible consequences led even to amputation of the fingers of the researchers involved in these insidious rays.
- Gradually, we managed to find out that such lesions can be avoided by reducing the time, radiation dose, using lead shielding and remote process control.
Harm from X-rays can have a longer-term perspective: temporary or permanent changes in blood composition, susceptibility to leukemia, early aging.
- How does x-ray affect the body, ie, the biological consequences depend on which body is exposed to radiation, what is the dose of exposure. For example, irradiation of the hematopoietic organs causes blood diseases, the reproductive organs - infertility.
- Systematic irradiation even in small doses can lead to genetic changes in the body.
These data were obtained from experiments on experimental animals, however, geneticists suggest that such consequences can extend to the human body.
The study of the effects of X-ray irradiation has allowed the development of international standards for permissible radiation doses.
Doses of X-rays with X-ray diagnostics
After visiting the X-ray room, many patients are concerned - how will the radiation dose received affect your health?
The dose of total body irradiation depends on the nature of the procedure performed. For convenience, we will compare the received dose with natural irradiation, which accompanies a person all his life.
- Radiography: thorax - the received dose of radiation is equivalent to 10 days of background radiation; upper stomach and small intestine - 3 years.
- Computer tomography of the abdominal cavity and pelvis, as well as the whole body - 3 years.
- Mammography - 3 months.
- Radiography of the extremities is practically harmless.
- As for the dental X-ray, the radiation dose is minimal, since a narrow beam of X-rays with a short duration of radiation is applied to the patient.
These doses correspond to acceptable standards, but if a patient experiences anxiety before going through the X-ray, he has the right to ask for a special protective apron.
Effects of X-rays on pregnant women
X-ray examination, each person is forced to repeatedly. But there is a rule - this method of diagnosis can not be prescribed to pregnant women. The developing embryo is extremely vulnerable. X-rays can cause chromosome abnormalities and as a consequence, the birth of children with developmental defects. The most vulnerable in this regard is the gestational age of up to 16 weeks. And the most dangerous for the future baby is the x-ray of the spine, pelvic and abdominal area.
Knowing about the detrimental effect of X-rays on pregnancy, doctors in every possible way avoid using it during this crucial period in the life of a woman.
However, there are side-effects of X-ray radiation:
- electron microscopes;
- kinescopes of color TVs, etc.
Future mums should be aware of the danger that comes from them.
For breastfeeding mothers, X-ray diagnosis is not dangerous.
What to do after X-rays
To avoid even the minimal effects of X-ray exposure, you can take some simple steps:
- after a roentgen to drink a glass of milk, - it displays small doses of radiation;
- very welcome reception of a glass of dry wine or grape juice;
- Some time after the procedure, it is useful to increase the share of products with an increased content of iodine (seafood).
But, no medical procedures or special measures for the removal of radiation after X-rays are not required!
Despite, undoubtedly, serious consequences from the impact of X-rays, one should not overestimate their danger in medical examinations - they are carried out only in certain areas of the body and very quickly. Benefits from them many times exceeds the risk of this procedure for the human body.