Potassium Iodide

The threat of biological warfare or nuclear disaster has made the sale of potassium iodide or KI widely popular. Many people include this medication in their disaster survival kits in case of a nuclear disaster. The main uses of this drug are:

  • Protection of the thyroid gland during any radiation exposure
  • Clearing the airways of mucus so that breathing is easier, especially for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis
  • Helps make the thyroid gland ready for surgery
  • Treatment of hyperthyroidism
  • Treatment of fungal skin conditions

This over-the-counter drug works if there is exposure to nuclear radiation by helping to stop the thyroid glands from absorbing dangerous radioactive iodine. The drug works by actually reducing the amount of the bad iodine that the thyroid glands are capable of absorbing. This is why it is important to take the drug before or immediately after a nuclear emergency.

Who Should Take This Drug

Everyone including pregnant women and babies can take potassium iodide, but careful attention to dosage instructions is necessary. The drug will pass from mother to fetus via the placenta or to babies via breast milk. However, breastfeeding mothers should also administer the drug directly to babies.

It is also important to know who should not take KI such as those who are allergic to iodine or to seafood. The best course of action is to talk to your doctor so you know whether or not you should take this drug in the event of a nuclear disaster.
Apart from use by a medical doctor to treat certain conditions, it is best to take this medication if it is not possible to evacuate the area where radiation exposure occurred.

Dosage and Possible Side Effects of Potassium Iodide

Following the dosage guidelines for taking these pills or liquid medication is an important part of its treatment and protective properties. Taking this medication before exposure provides the best results, but it is also useful if taken within four hours of exposure to radiation.

Some sources advise the taking of one tablet daily until the emergency has passed. Adults and adolescents can take two 65 mg pills or one 130 mg pill. The dosage for children and babies is different and you must follow them carefully.

Anyone taking potassium iodide as medicine needs to drink a lot of water. It is important to note that if radioactive iodine is already in the body and is negatively affecting it, KI is unable to reverse the damage. Since there may be no warning before a nuclear disaster, it makes sense to talk to your doctor beforehand to get dosage and other information for KI.

Overdosing can have a negative impact on your health.

Side Effects

As with any medication, there are side effects to taking this drug but they are mild in most cases and generally rare. Some of the most common side effects are:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Acne
  • Stomach ache
  • Rashes
  • The salivary glands may become inflamed

In the event of a nuclear disaster, the side effects of taking this drug are far less severe than the effects of radiation exposure. Radioactive radiation can lead to dangerous conditions or even death. It is important to note that radioactive iodine from a nuclear disaster can be absorbed through the air, in water or contaminated food.

Currently only three companies have FDA approval for selling potassium iodide in the USA. These are USA-based Anbex, Inc, Fleming & Company Pharmaceuticals and the Swedish company, Recipharm AB. Finding the drug is not difficult as it is an ‘over the counter’ remedy, plus many outlets sell it online. Having a shelf life of approximately five to seven years makes this ideal for survival bags, but the bags have to be in a dry storage area that is at room temperature.

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