One of the main advice from most doctors would be to undergo master health checkup once a year. As many new inventions start to penetrate the medical world, the number of medical tests for our body keep on increasing. In the past, only X-rays used to be the sole test that involves radiation, but now we have many types of scans and mammogram which send 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 involve radiations bad for our health?
We are exposed to radiations in our daily life, but most of us are not aware of it. These radiations are from sunlight, TV, mobile phones, and mobile phone towers.
Radiations are measured in Milli-Sieverts – mSv, It is best to minimize the use of radiations as much as possible. There is a minimum accepted level of radiation a person can get exposed to in his lifetime to maintain good health. In accordance with this level, a person can get exposed to 50 mSv radiation per year, which should do no harm (high probability).
Sunlight, electronic gadgets we use, and industries alone contribute to 3 mSv level radiation. So we are fairly safe with remaining 47 mSv. There is no harm in taking X-rays during a cough, cold and chest pains.
Even for 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 advise 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 a lead apron over the stomach area. Newly married women can be more vulnerable to X-rays during their pregnancy, as they are mostly unaware that they are pregnant, taking X-rays tests for irregular periods can lead to problems and unwanted consequences. So it needs to be avoided.
Is it good to take the yearly health checkup and mammogram?
Definitely. For the 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 on women who younger than 40 years only under certain unavoidable circumstances like to test 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 a cyst or tumor.
Is it safe for babies to undergo scans?
MRI scans help in detecting anatomical and functional changes in babies. It is not usually prescribed in the first three months of pregnancy, unless if there is an unavoidable situation to carry out a scan.
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.