An X-ray machine is routinely used in the hospital to diagnose many kinds of diseases. It is an important tool for physicians and other medical professionals to easily understand what is wrong with your body. However, it also comes with some disadvantages.
X-ray machines are capable of producing a form of radiation called ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is a form of radiation that is capable of contributing to changes in your body. In this article, you will be introduced on the concept of X-ray, whether it is capable of emitting electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation, and the manner medical professionals can protect themselves from the negative effects of this technology.
This Article Contains
X-ray: An Introduction
X-rays are electromagnetic radiation. It is comparable to visible light, but it possess higher energy and is capable of penetrating any kinds and forms of an object. In the medical field, the technology is used to diagnose and understand the functions of the human body. Given its power to pass through most objects, it can produce images of tissues and different internal organs.
The image produced during a medical x-ray is a result of x-ray passing through the body. This x-ray would then be read by an x-ray detector that delivers the image of the scanned part of the body. Mammography, computer tomography, and fluoroscopy are some other forms of diagnostic uses of x-ray.
This technology can also be used as a therapeutic agent. A study found that the use of radiation therapy in cancer patients effectively eradicated cancer cells. The achievement was done by using a higher percentage of radiation in killing the DNA of the cancerous cells and tumor in the body.
There are different ways of delivering radiation therapy. The first is by using an equipment that would subject the body to a higher dose of radiation to kill the cancer cells. Injection of a radioactive material is another way of using x-ray as a therapy. This method allows the radioactive material to be in proximity of the cancerous cell and tumor so it can easily get rid of its growth.
How Do X-rays Emit Radiation?
While x-rays are effective in detecting abnormalities in the body like the formation of cancer cells, the state of your blood vessels, and the state of your bones, it does have some downsides. The technology is known for emitting radiation.
X-ray are electromagnetic radiation. It is able to produce images because of such property. It is also this property that makes it capable of producing ionizing radiation. This kind of radiation is powerful enough to cause alternation in your tissues.
Experts claim that this diagnostic method does not contribute to formation of cancer cells as there is yet a study to prove otherwise. However, there are different studies proving the negative impact of using this technology.
Scientists in 1985 discovered that there is a direct correlation between constant exposure to radiation coming from x-rays and the development of many health issues. Another study found that pregnant women who were exposed to x-ray radiation gave birth to babies with lower birth weight compared to others.
What is an Ionizing Radiation?
Ionizing radiation is the culprit behind the many side-effects of using x-ray as a diagnostic tool. It is defined as a type of radiation that comes with energy capable enough to kick out electrons from the orbit of an atom. This change causes the atom to become charged or ionized.
There three forms of ionizing radiation – ultraviolet, gamma, and x-rays. This kind of radiation is not easily detectable. It requires the use of special tools like the Geiger counters to know its presence and measure its amount.
Ionizing is not only exclusive to x-rays and other diagnostic tools used in medicine. It can also be found in the most unsuspecting places and things. The following are some of the most common objects that emits ionizing radiation:
- Ultraviolet light;
- Radio waves;
- Radioactive minerals;
- Mines that produces metals;
- Cosmic ray from the sun and other stars; and
- Nuclear reactors.
Preventing Side-effects of X-ray Radiation Exposure
People in the medical field should continuous protect themselves from the negative effects of this diagnostic tool. Occupational hazard is the most common cause people experiences health issues caused by x-ray radiation.
According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, 50 mSv is the recommended occupational exposure limit for a year. The organization recommended 100mSv occupational exposure limit for a consecutive five-year period.
People who were diagnosed with illnesses caused by radiation exposure were found to have been exposed to radiation by effective dose while others from radioactive contamination and/or irradiation of the body. The International Commission disclosed the following industries where its workers are constantly exposed to radiation:
- Research laboratories;
- Airline crew;
- Industrial radiography;
- Nuclear energy; and
- Nuclear medicine.
Prevention is key when you are constantly exposed to any kind of radiation. It is especially important for those who are exposed for a long period of time. Given that x-ray is capable of emitting ionizing radiation, it is best to take precaution.
Reducing its impact and prevalence in a space is one thing. The following are some of the ways to lessen, if not get rid, of x-ray radiation:
- Avoid X-rays – if you were consulting your physician, it is best to tell him if you are experiencing a vulnerable or diminished immune system. People with less capability to protect themselves from the negative effects of x-ray radiation are more prone to experience its side-effects.
- Use newer x-ray machines – X-ray is already given to contribute to the prevalence of radiation in this planet. However, people in the diagnostic equipment industry are making strides in their goal of reducing the capability of these machines on producing unwanted by-products like radiation. A newer model of an x-ray machine can guarantee you will not be subjected to its negative impact when you are constantly and for a long period of time exposed to an x-ray machine.
- Wear protective gear – medical professionals know the importance of having the right gear to make them more effective in helping their patients get back their health. While it is ideal to see all professionals practicing the donning of protective gear, it can sometimes be forgotten. These protective gears are beneficial against all kind of radiation because most are made from materials capable of bouncing back radiation.
Radiation and X-ray
X-ray might be one of the most useful tools in the field of diagnostic science, but it does have some shortcomings. While many medical professionals that claim the disadvantages are outweighed by its benefits, it is understandable why many are still on the fence over getting an x-ray examination.
Several studies also looked into the effects on x-ray radiation on people. One research disclosed that pregnant women constantly exposed to x-ray gave birth to a baby with lower than average birth weight. There are also studies on how the technology impacts the health of medical workers who are exposed to x-ray machines and chemicals used for it.
Additionally, most people are concerned over the link between constant prolonged exposure to x-ray radiation and the development of cancer. While there is still no concrete evidence to prove such, it is best to protect yourself from unwanted effects of this technology. Wearing a protective gear, if you are an x-ray operator or physician, is a must.
These things are made from materials capable of shielding you from electromagnetic field and other kinds of radiation present in your surroundings.