What Happens if Astronauts Get Sick in Space?

What Happens if Astronauts Get Sick in Space?
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As you can probably imagine, in the unfortunate situation of an astronaut getting sick, they cannot just come back to Earth to see a doctor. So what happens instead? It seems that NASA, along with other space agencies are ready for such events, making sure that if an astronaut starts feeling unwell, he or she will have nothing to worry about. Let’s take a look to see what could go wrong in a mission aboard the ISS.

Astronauts could get sick while adapting to the new environment

When in space, astronauts can experience something called space adaptation syndrome or SAS, which is caused by the inability of the inner ears to differentiate between up and down. This is due to the zero gravity that is affecting the fluids inside the body, making them float. Motion sickness, which is a part of the mentioned syndrome, is the health problem that is reported the most, affecting 67-75% of astronauts.

Catching a cold

The chances of getting exposed to germs in space are quite small, as all astronauts are put in quarantine before their mission. However, if a cosmonaut manages to get sick, they will have a much more intense cold than they would have on Earth. The good part is that most of the times, colds and even the flu disappear on their own.

Getting minor injuries

Because of the zero gravity in space, astronauts may, at times, accidentally bump into their surroundings, which can lead to an injury in some cases. In such situations, if they developed a bruise, a wound, or something similar, they need to call a doctor on the ground that will assist them with what they need to do to take care of the problem.

Dealing with more serious health problems

In the event of something more serious happening to an astronaut, they will eventually have to return to Earth by using the Soyuz spacecraft, as they seem to have one of them at the ISS for emergencies. At the present time, it takes less than three and a half hours to get back from space and in case one astronaut needs surgery, evacuation to Earth is the only option for now.


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