This fact is both a cure and a crux.
Radioiodine, in controlled dosage, is the preferred treatment for thyroidal ilnesses such as thyroid cancer,
hyperthyroidism, and Grave's disease. The key is "CONTROLLED DOSAGE". Treatments are, ideally, under
supervision and the threat of overexposure is limited. This is not the case in a radioactive fallout.
Overexposure to radioiodine would be almost a certainty. The destroyed/damaged thyroid is then succeptible to
the development of cancer. An interesting irony!
So what does all of this have to do Potassium iodide?
Since the thyroid is such a glutton for iodine, the best thing to do is to let it have it! If a nuclear
emergency should occur, be it from a reactor or attack, the preferred way to block the uptake of radioiodine is
by making certain that the gland is already saturated with iodine. Insert KI here! Potassium Iodide supplies
the thyroid with the over-abundance of iodine it needs and prevents it from absorbing the radioactive iodine.
Believe it or not most of you have consumed Potassium Iodide, that is if you've ever used table salt. It's
added to salt to help stave off iodine deficiency. Of course there's less than 0.01% so it's ineffective as a
treatment. It will do you no good to consume huge quantities of salt in a radioactive emergency - you'll just
end up with high blood pressure and will still have the threat of thyroid cancer.
In Case of Emergency!
We keep many things around the house, in case an emergency should arise, from rubbing alcohol to syrup of
ipecac. If it expires, you throw it out and get more. The same goes for fire extinguishers, smoke detectors
and flashlights. And the same should go for Potassium Iodide!
The concept is not one we like to let slip into our conscious minds - that of a severe nuclear emergency. But
it is possible, especially under current conditions. It's always best to be prepared.
What do I do if I'm exposed?
In the event of a nuclear emergency, local officials will have the task of instructing the public on the
immediate actions to take. In relation to radioactive iodine, the consumption of KI within 3-4 hours of
exposure is necessary to help prevent the radioiodine uptake from occurring.
I'd like more information!
The information available on this subject is lengthy and a great deal is related to the incident at Chernobyl.
For more information on this topic, read the U.S. FDA's Guidance for
Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies.
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