Iodine overdose is a serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention. In this article, we have highlighted a few of the most important aspects of iodine in our diet, and the side effects of too much iodine.
Iodine is an essential mineral for our body, which is required in trace amounts for growth and development. It plays a major role in the normal functioning of the thyroid glands, that control some of the most vital metabolic processes of our body. Deficiency of iodine in our body can lead to thyroid problems like goiter. Some important iodine-rich foods are sea food, eggs, dairy products, soya beans, spinach, iodized salt, etc.
However, the amount of naturally occurring iodine present in these food substances is not high enough to cause an overdose. An overdose mainly occurs due to medicines which contain iodine as an ingredient, like Pima syrup, Lugol’s solution, tincture of iodine, etc. Those undergoing radioactive iodine therapy for treatment of thyroid disease can also get an overdose.
Identification of symptoms is very important, as it will ensure proper treatment at the right time. Effects of an iodine overdose are far severe in small children than in adults. Some common signs and symptoms that are noticed in both adults and children include:
- Abdominal pain which can vary from mild to moderate
- Metallic taste can be felt in the mouth, quite frequently
- Pain in throat and mouth
- Low or no urine output
- Shortness of breath
- Shock and seizures
- Mental confusion
- Excessive feeling of thirst
When you suspect that a person is suffering from iodine overdose, call emergency services for immediate medical help. Provide them with correct information about the age, weight, and health condition of the patient. You also have to furnish other details, including the name of the product (along with its ingredients and strengths) being used, the quantity of medicine consumed and the time when it was consumed.
During the time when medical help is awaited, give the patient milk to drink. In case milk is not available, then dissolve some cornstarch or flour into water and use it for the same purpose. This has to be continued after a gap of every 15 minutes. However, these liquids are not suitable for patients who are vomiting or getting convulsions or losing alertness of mind. Under such circumstances, swallowing becomes difficult.
In the emergency room, the patient is first provided with breathing support in order to restore normal breathing. After that, body temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure are checked. Then suitable medicines are administered to control the symptoms. Meanwhile, oral administration of the fluid has to be continued. Some patients may receive activated charcoal treatment which has proved to be helpful for the removal of the toxic contents. To manage severe forms of iodine overdose, gastric lavage may be conducted. Here a tube is inserted into the stomach through nose or mouth, for the purpose of washing out the stomach.
The recovery time for a patient largely depends on the quantity of iodine taken, and how promptly the treatment was administered. Delay in treatment may result in complications, like esophageal stricture, which results in narrowing down of the esophagus or food pipe, and thus, swallowing becomes difficult. Iodine overdose can be dangerous for those who are suffering from kidney disease or tuberculosis, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.