If your patient lives in an area that was previously downwind from a nuclear power plant, they're likely to have been affected by toxins, pollutants, or radiation due to radioactive fallout. Below are five health conditions that downwinders are more susceptible to:
One of the most well-known effects of radiation exposure is cancer. While there is no guarantee that downwinders will develop cancer, their odds are significantly higher than those who have not been exposed to radiation. If you notice cancer symptoms in your patients, it is important to order the appropriate tests so that you can make a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Another potential effect of radiation exposure is birth defects. If a pregnant woman is exposed to high levels of radiation, her unborn child may be at risk for certain birth defects. These defects can range from small physical abnormalities to serious mental and developmental problems. It is important to check with your patients to see if they have been exposed to any radiation so that you can monitor them closely throughout their pregnancy.
The thyroid gland is particularly susceptible to damage from radiation exposure. This gland regulates many important functions in the body, including metabolism and heart rate. When the thyroid gland is damaged, it can cause a variety of problems, such as goiter, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism. These conditions can be extremely debilitating and even life-threatening if left untreated. That is why it is important to be on the lookout for any signs or symptoms of thyroid problems in your patients who may have been exposed to radiation.
These conditions occur when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells instead of foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. This can happen if the body has been exposed to radiation, as this exposure can damage healthy cells and cause them to malfunction. Some common autoimmune diseases include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. These diseases can be very difficult to manage and often require lifelong treatment.
Radiation exposure has also been linked to certain neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These disorders cause problems with memory, cognition, and motor skills. Although more research needs to be done in this area, it is important to be aware of these potential risks so that you can properly diagnose and treat your patients if necessary.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your patients, it is important to order the appropriate tests so that you can make a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. Contact a downwinders health center in your area such as Downwinders (a subsidiary of National Cancer Benefits Center) to learn more.