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Introduction:

Recently, people were hoarding potassium iodide pills. They were scared because of the breakdown of nuclear reactors in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. Dangerous levels of radiation were measured outside of some of the nuclear plants. People in other countries and the West Coast of the United States worried that clouds of radiation would start floating over the ocean. These clouds would surely contaminate the air we breath and the soil where we grow our precious food. Because of a possible risk of radioactive fallout, frightened people purchased potassium iodide to help protect them against radiation. There are some reasons why it is good to avoid doing this.

Allergies

Nonradioactive potassium iodide is basically made up of salt. It acts to block radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland. If you are allergic to shellfish, then you will more than likely have allergies to potassium iodide pills. You may not know if you will have a reaction until it is too late and you end up in the emergency room. Right now, there is no magic radioactive-cloud heading our way and there is no reason to experiment with this non-prescription drug.

Greed

It is feared that if others hoard the potassium iodide pills, there will not be any available for those that really need them. In Japan, for example, their government asked people living within a 12 mile area of the Fukushima plant to leave. Those living between 12 to 18 miles were told to stay indoors if at all possible. These people should have been the first in line to receive any help for radiation exposure. Because of the potassium iodide pills being hoarded, drug companies sold out of them.

Not a Cure All

Potassium Iodide pills protect the thyroid gland from the effects of radiation. The pills cannot prevent radioactive iodine from entering the body or to help the other organs from being exposed. If the thyroid gland has been hurt, there is no need to take the pills because they will not heal the thyroid or protect it from future radiation exposure. The damage has been done and cannot be repaired.

Overdose

You can take too much potassium iodide and for too long. It can actually cause the thyroid to slow down hormone production (hypothyroidism). It is also dangerous to be taken by those who have autoimmune thyroid diseases like a goiter or Graves' disease. There was no warning issued or direction given from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but that did not stop some people from taking potassium iodide pills. It is only safe to take them for two weeks.

Side Effects

Side effects from potassium iodide pills are skin rashes, stomach problems and salivary gland inflammation. The medication was never meant to be taken as a preventive measure, but only for an actual threat of immediate radiation exposure. Fortunately, that risk is negligible at this time. Even in Japan, authorities are saying that there is no real health issue to be concerned about for people living in most of that country.

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