Acute radiation sickness can be categorized into three phases: prodrome, latency, and illness. The Table, summarizes the constellation of hematologic, gastrointestinal, and neurologic symptoms, along with the time to onset and dose dependence, associated with each of these phases.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Radiation Sickness in the Three Phases after Exposure.
| Prodrome, According to Exposure Level
|Mild (1 to 2 Gy)
Vomiting; onset, 2 hr
|Duration, 21–35 days; lymphocyte count, 800–1500/mm3||Fatigue, weakness; mortality, 0%|
|Moderate (2 to 4 Gy)
Vomiting, mild headache; onset, 1–2 hr
|Duration, 18–35 days; lymphocyte count,
|Fever, infections, bleeding, weakness, epilation; mortality, </=50%|
|Severe (4 to 6 Gy)
Vomiting, mild diarrhea, moderate headache, fever; onset, <1 hr
|Duration, 8–18 days; lymphocyte count,
300 to 500/mm3
|High fever, infections, bleeding, epilation; mortality, 20–70%|
|Very severe (6 to 8 Gy)
Vomiting, severe diarrhea, severe headache, high fever, altered consciousness; onset, <30 min
|Duration, </=7 days; lymphocyte count, 100 to 300/mm3||High fever, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, disorientation, hypotension; mortality, 50–100%|
|Lethal (>8 Gy)
Vomiting, severe diarrhea, severe headache, high fever, unconsciousness; onset, <10 min
|No latency; lymphocyte count, 0 to 100/mm3||High fever, diarrhea, unconsciousness;
† Lymphocyte counts in the latency phase represent the range of values that may be seen 3 to 6 days after radiation exposure.
‡ Mortality estimates are for patients who do not receive medical intervention.
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Created: Apr 25, 2011