A Is for Astronaut: The Truth Behind Radiation Testing for Astronauts

astronautWhen you were a kid did you dream of working for NASA and becoming an astronaut? Did exploring the world above and around you sound like a dream come true? As scientists who essentially risk their lives in order to explore space and the different planets around us, astronauts are pretty incredible. And not only do astronauts risk their lives while in space, their bodies also undergo certain physical changes that can be evaluated once they land. In fact, we here at UTMB Radiology perform testing on astronauts in order to evaluate and assess any and all changes that their bodies may have undergone while in space. Read on to learn more.

David Bowie may not have been talking about the changes astronauts undergo while in space when he wrote “ch-ch-changes” but he very well could have. In fact, according to NASA, while in space, your body typically loses .5% more of its bone density in one year. And although that percentage might seem seemingly small in the long run, remember that you are losing 50% more of your bone mass than you otherwise would. Additionally, things such as space radiation may increase your risk of developing cancer further down the line. These are all things that we at UTMB Radiology test astronauts for after they return from space.

Radiation Testing
One of the main things that we at UTMB Radiology test astronauts for after they return from space is their exposure to radiation. Specifically, because astronauts are exposed to 10 times more radiation than what we typically receive on earth, it’s important for their levels to be consistently monitored. Space radiation typically exhibits itself in the form of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anorexia, decreased cognitive functionality, and more. But above all, it’s important that radiation levels be monitored so that early onsets of cancer can be detected.

We at UTMB perform many tests on different individuals in order to monitor their radiation levels and seek treatment options. Of which, astronaut testing is one of our most prized types of testing. To learn more about what we do or to learn more about astronaut testing, contact our UTMB Radiology office today!

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