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How does radiation poisoning affect my stomach and intestines?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

The gastrointestinal syndrome is a term used to describe the effects of radiation poisoning on the stomach and intestine. Moderately high doses of radiation (as low as 6 Gray) can cause gastrointestinal symptoms within the first hour after exposure. The initial damage leads to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and poor appetite. This first phase may last for a few days and is followed by a symptom-free period. As the effects of radiation continue to destroy the cells of the digestive tract, the shedding of dead cells causes bloody diarrhea and severe dehydration. The loss of cells also makes the digestive tract vulnerable to bacteria which can cause life-threatening infections. Death can result within a few weeks due to loss of fluid and electrolytes or infection. Fifty percent of those who have access to intensive medical care will recover.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.