During the melt down of the reactors in Japan in 2011 and again now, with North Korea threatening to send nuclear bombs our way, potassium iodide (chemical name is KI) has flown off the shelves. This may not be a good thing — or even necessary for everyone.
(I will use the KI abbreviation throughout for brevity.)
People should take KI (potassium iodide) only on the advice of public health or emergency management officials. There are health risks associated with taking KI.
The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low amounts of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.
Infants (including breast-fed infants)
Infants have the highest risk of getting thyroid cancer after being exposed to radioactive iodine. All infants, including breast-fed infants need to be given the dosage of KI (potassium iodide) recommended for infants.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all children internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take KI (potassium iodide), unless they have known allergies to iodine (contraindications).
The FDA recommends that young adults (between the ages of 18 and 40 years) internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take the recommended dose of KI (potassium iodide). Young adults are less sensitive to the effects of radioactive iodine than are children.
Because all forms of iodine cross the placenta, pregnant women should take KI (potassium iodide) to protect the growing fetus. Pregnant women should take only one dose of KI following internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine.
Women who are breastfeeding should take only one dose of KI (potassium iodide) if they have been internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine. They should be prioritized to receive other protective action measures.
Adults older than 40 years should not take KI (potassium iodide) unless public health or emergency management officials say that contamination with a very large dose of radioactive iodine is expected.
There are two forms of KI: pills and liquid and two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg.
According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:
A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at recommended levels is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland.
If someone is exposed to RI for more than 24 hours, instructions from public health officials may tell you to take one dose of KI every 24 hours for a few days.
Avoid repeat dosing with KI for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants.
Some people should not take KI because the risks outweigh the benefits. According to the FDA, the following people should not take KI:
A seafood or shellfish allergy does not necessarily mean that you are allergic or hypersensitive to iodine, but extreme caution should be used, and you should have the supplies on hand to treat a life-threatening allergic reaction. Personally, I probably would not take KI if I had a seafood allergy. If you are not sure if you should take KI, consult your healthcare professional before a disaster ever occurs.
If your thyroid gland has been removed, you will not benefit from taking KI.
Side effects may include stomach or gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions, rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands. Even if taken as recommended, KI can cause rare adverse health effects related to the thyroid gland. These effects are more likely if a person:
Newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive more than one dose of KI (potassium iodide) are at risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage.
KI is available without a prescription at drug stores and preparedness stores. Because of the pretty strict rules for using it and the possible side effects, having some in your preparedness supplies is a good idea but should be used ONLY if necessary. You can purchase it here. (affiliate link)
Anyone who watches the news on TV or the Internet lately is fully aware of the threats to our national security by North Korea and ISIS, as well as domestic terrorists. Because of North Korea's possible new ability to send their ICBMs into our country, we all know there are many preparations we need to accomplish if we are going to survive, should they actually make good on their threats — and I strongly believe we can survive.
These are only some of the questions you should be asking yourself, but it is a start. Please don't put off getting prepared — our existence seems very precarious lately and deserves our immediate attention.