How Harmful Are Xrays

X-rays are a vital imaging tool that have been used in medicine to help save a countless number of lives and contributed to many important medical discoveries. X-rays actually come from a naturally occurring form of electromagnetic radiation. While X-rays play an important role in medical and dental care, there are concerns over the potential health risks the imaging tool may introduce. Many patients and providers wonder, do the benefits of X-rays outweigh the potential risks? Below is more information on X-rays and a discussion of their potential harmful effects.

X-Ray Side Effects

Although side effects are rare, X-rays can be harmful if there is a high dosage of exposure. Exposure to higher X-ray radiation levels can have a range of effects, such as vomiting, bleeding, fainting, and hair loss. Fortunately, there is a very low dose of radiation in the X-ray imaging procedures that are commonly used in dental exams and medical exams. In fact, the low dose of radiation that comes from X-rays won’t cause any immediate health problems or side effects, and is only associated with minimal long-term risks.

Benefits of X-rays

While the potential side effects and risk of X-rays are extremely low, there are a large number of benefits. X-rays play an essential role in helping dental providers diagnose a disease or condition. Some of the additional benefits of X-rays, include:

* Non-invasive: X-rays are non-invasive, meaning they can help diagnose a medical issue or assess treatment progression without the need to physically enter the patient.
* Guiding: X-rays can be used to help guide providers as they insert or place devices inside the patient.
* Unexpected finds: During an X-ray an unexpected feature or pathology can be discovered that may be different from the initial reason for the X-ray.

X-ray Safety

While the evidence is conflicting, there are some studies that show a CT scan might increase the risk of cancer by 1 in 2,000. But the actual risk of cancer from natural occurrence is 1 in 5. Additionally, there is some evidence from studies that show that very low X-ray exposure may not cause cancer at all. Thus, there is still not enough evidence to support that X-rays, in the low dose that is commonly used, are dangerous for patients. However, the majority of this evidence only applies to the safety of X-rays for adults. Some research suggests that X-ray scans in children may be associated with a much greater risk, depending on the dose and location in the body. It is important that providers discuss the risk and benefits of X-rays with the family of the child prior to completing any X-ray scans. Further, advances in medical imaging and greater awareness to the potential risks of X-rays have helped to create safeguards to keep patients and providers safe during medical imaging procedures.

Overall, the contribution of X-rays to medical diagnoses and choosing the appropriate treatment is far greater than the potential danger that X-rays introduce. X-rays play a critical role in modern medicine.

Radiation Risk and Xrays