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June 20th, 2011
07:33 AM ET

Is it normal to feel an X-ray?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Karen from Ontario, Canada

I have had several dental x-rays within the past 3 to 4 years, as I have had braces, and other dental problems that have needed x-rays in order to deal with the problems. When I had my 3-D scan last summer I felt fuzzy for at least a day after the x-ray. Now again I had an X-ray three days ago, and I still feel very fuzzy and not all there. Is it normal to actually feel the effects of an x-ray?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. To best help you, I consulted with Dr. Richard Woodcock at Northwest Radiology Consultants in Atlanta.

Dr. Woodcock shares the following information: X-rays and radiation certainly may have effects on your body, and rarely may be felt in special circumstances.

However, those effects are not typically felt right away for plain x-rays - even multiple ones - unless there was something unusual about the exam or equipment.

The types of symptoms experienced that would show up right away would be related to skin injury, possibly even skin burns, but that is very uncommon.

Also, those are usually caused by long exposures to X-ray, such as with cardiac catheterization or specialized CT scans to look at blood vessels or the heart, or rarely due to problems with the equipment.

Radiologists, physicists and the medical profession, in general, continue to learn about long-term effects that can result from multiple episodes of radiation exposure.

Such effects are usually at the molecular level and not felt by individuals as such. In short, it is unlikely that your symptoms were related to the X-rays themselves, but perhaps could have been related to other parts of your visits, such as your position or other treatment and evaluation.

A good resource is the American College of Radiology patient info page and as always you can consult with your physician if you have more questions or concerns.

Follow Dr. Shu on Twitter


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.