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30 Jun. 2023

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Potassium iodide: what it is and why it is dangerous even in preventive doses

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Potassium iodide: what it is and why it is dangerous even in preventive doses

Against the backdrop of radiation hazards, including the possibility of nuclear accidents or explosions, potassium iodide is a topic of interest because of its ability to protect the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine. Find out what the consequences can be from self-medication and when to take it

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Amid warnings from Ukrainian intelligence that Russian troops are preparing a terrorist attack on the seized Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), there has been an unprecedented hype around the drug potassium iodide. This is due to the fact that it is able to protect the body from radiation. However, it is worth knowing that this drug can also cause harm to a person, up to and including death. Let's find out what potassium iodide is and why it is dangerous even in preventive doses.


What is potassium iodide for?


Potassium iodide is a chemical compound consisting of iodine and potassium. It is widely used in medicine and pharmacology as a source of iodine, which is necessary for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. Potassium iodide provides the body with iodine, which is an essential component for the synthesis of thyroid hormones - thyroxine and triiodothyronine.


Despite the importance of iodine for the body, potassium iodide can have side effects and be dangerous in case of overdose. You should only take potassium iodide if your state or local health authorities recommend it.


Uncontrolled need for iodine and improper use of the drug can lead to problems with the thyroid gland and other organs. 




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What side effects can be caused by potassium iodide?


  • Hyperthyroidism


An overdose of potassium iodide can cause an overproduction of thyroid hormones and lead to a condition called hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include increased heart rate, nervousness, weight loss, insomnia, and increased appetite.


  • Allergic reactions


Some people may be allergically intolerant to potassium iodide and develop an allergic reaction such as hives, itching, swelling, or even anaphylactic shock.


Side effects on the thyroid gland:


  • Iodine deficiency


With prolonged use of large doses of potassium iodide, iodism may develop. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can be manifested by pain in the neck, enlargement of the thyroid gland, hypersensitivity and irritability.


  • Development of autonomous nodules


An overdose of potassium iodide may contribute to the development of autonomous nodules, which is an uncontrolled enlargement of certain areas of the thyroid gland. This can lead to thyroid dysfunction and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.


  • Induced hypothyroidism


If you stop taking potassium iodide after prolonged use of high doses, induced hypothyroidism may develop. This is due to the suppression of the thyroid gland's own synthesis of thyroid hormones and can cause a decrease in overall metabolism, drowsiness, fatigue, memory loss, and significant weight gain.


Is potassium iodide needed in case of a possible ZNPP explosion?


The need to take a potassium iodide tablet can only be reported to citizens by doctors who are able to thoroughly analyze the threat and your health.


In no case should you take this drug on your own without consulting a specialist. It is important to understand that self-medication with this drug can only worsen your health.


We remind you! On the evening of June 25, the Ukrainian authorities announced that the plan for a terrorist attack on the ZNPP had been fully developed and approved. Why the situation at the plant is called critical and what to expect from the Russian Federation, we tell here.


Photo: Depositphotos




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