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How Safe are X-Rays?

It’s difficult to feel sick and not know what’s wrong. Getting answers quickly so that you can get on the road to recovery is all you really want. That sounds simple enough, but in reality, your doctor sometimes needs to rule out possible conditions to learn more about what’s going on inside your body. That usually means doing diagnostic tests like X-rays.

In 1895 when German mechanical engineer and physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen accidentally invented X-ray technology while tinkering with a cathode-ray tube in his laboratory at Wuerzburg University, he had no way of knowing that his discovery would profoundly change medicine and the process of diagnosing disease for centuries to come.

But is there a risk involved with X-ray technology? In this blog, our highly experienced providers here at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic share their thoughts on the safety of X-rays.

Radiation exposure occurs in nature

Did you know that in the United States, and everywhere else in the world for that matter, people get a certain amount of radiation exposure from nature, including from the air, soil, and water? Each year Americans get exposed to an estimated total of 0.62 rem (620 millirems)

Half of the total radiation exposure we receive comes from natural sources and is called background radiation. The other half comes from manmade sources from industrial, commercial, and medical sources. The measurements are minute though.  

X-rays use EM waves or electromagnetic waves, a type of radiation, to create the image inside your body. Our team orders X-ray for a variety of reasons such as to check for a fracture, to see if you have pneumonia or in the case of mammograms to see if you have breast cancer.

Each of these types of X-rays emits a different level of radiation, which can sound scary. However, the dosage of what you receive from a diagnostic X-ray is very low. You would have to get hundreds of X-rays a year to accumulate enough radiation to create potential harm.  

The benefits outweigh the risks

For the convenience of our patients, we provide in-house X-rays so you don’t have to travel to another facility and then wait to get results. The waiting game is never easy, but it’s particularly difficult when you aren’t feeling well. Getting answers is important, but you may be still wondering whether getting an X-ray is worth it when you factor in risk.

Weighing the risks versus the rewards is something we often do in medicine. At Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic, helping you get better and maintaining your health is at the heart of everything we do. The Hippocratic Oath “first do no harm” is a principle we live by. 

Communicating clearly to you about what we think may be going on and what we’re going to do to get a proper diagnosis is a primary responsibility. We understand wanting to be cautious when it comes to radiation exposure, but rest assured when we recommend an X-ray it’s because we think the benefits outweigh the risks.

Ask questions about your X-rays

We don’t take your trust in us for granted. We know our patients play a critical part in the equation when it comes to their health. We also believe that the highest quality of medical care is always delivered when the patient is an active participant in the process. 

Asking questions about X-rays and other diagnostic tools as well as other aspects of your health is not only important but expected and required. If you don’t understand something or want to discuss your concerns, don’t be afraid to ask questions and start the conversation.

If you aren’t feeling well, contact our board-certified physicians and the medical team at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic in New Albany, Mississippi. Request an appointment online or call today.

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