One of the main advice from most doctors would be to be undergo master health checkup once a year. As new inventions starts to penetrate the medical world, number of tests for our body keeps on increasing. In the past only X-rays used to be the only test that involves radiation, but now we have many types of scans and mammogram which sends out radiation that penetrates our body. Till what level can we permit these radiations? Is it really safe to indulge in these tests more often?
Are tests that involves radiations bad for our health?
We are exposed to radiations in our daily life and most of us are not aware of it. These radiations are from sun light, TV, mobile phones and mobile phone towers.
Radiations are measured in Milli Sieverts – mSv, It is good to minimise the use of radiations as much as possible. There is an accepted level of radiation a person can get exposed to in his lifetime to maintain good health. According this level, a person can get exposed to 50 mSv radiation per year, which should do no harm (high probability).
Sunlight, electronics we use and industries alone contributes to 3 mSv level radiation. So we are fairly safe with remaining 47 mSv. There is no harm in taking X-rays during cough, cold and chest pains.
Even a person who takes tests for 7 to 8 times in his lifetime is a victim of only 30 – 35 mSv.
When to prevent radiation based tests?
Doctors will advice against X-ray tests during pregnancy periods. It is strictly prohibited to take X-rays during first 7 weeks of pregnancy. If there is a real need for X-ray, it can be done by wearing leap apron over stomach area. Newly married women can be more vulnerable to X-ray during their pregnancy, as they are mostly unaware that they are pregnant, taking X-rays to know the reason for problems with their irregular periods can lead to problems and unwanted consequences.
Is it good to take yearly health checkup and mammogram?
Definitely. For woman mammogram test is carried along with X-rays, motion test, urine test, ECG and echo. Since there is no problem with this, we can carry out these tests once a year.
Mammogram is not carried out in women who are younger than 40 years of age. Mammogram is carried out in women who younger than 40 years only under certain unavoidable circumstances like checking for cancer. Even then doctors usually prescribe ultrasound scan for women younger than 30 years. Doctors only advice for mammogram only after confirming the presence of cyst or tumor.
Is it safe for babies to undergo scans?
MRI scans helps in detecting anatomical changes and functional changes in babies. It is not usually prescribed, unless if there is an unavoidable situation to carry out a scan, in the first three months.
Radiation levels of scans
- X-ray in the upper body – 0.1 mSv
- CT-scan in upper body – 7 mSv
- CT-scan in abdomen – 10 mSv
- CT-scan for head – 2 mSv
- CT-scan for brain – 2 mSv
- CT scan for heart (coronary angiogram) – 12 mSv
- Mammogram – 0.4 mSv
Ultrasound scans do not use any radiations, it is totally safe. Even MRI scans do not use any radiations. It is carried out using magnetic waves.