Iodine Toxicity: Symptoms and Treatment For Chronic Iodine Poisoning

  • Iodine is useful to the body but an overdose is damaging.
  • Toxicity to iodine results to hyperthyroidism, thyroid papillary cancer, and/or iodermia (a serious skin reaction).
  • To help prevent this kind of toxicity, the Institute of Medicine provided the guideline known as Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (TUL). According to the important information contained in the guidelines: medication or food containing more than a gram of iodine is harmful.
  • However the development of chronic toxicity happens when intake is > 1.1 mg/day. Hyperthyroidism results when some people with iodine deficiency, imbibe an excessive intake of iodine (known as Jod-Basedow phenomenon).
  • Thyroid hormone synthesis is prevented by an overdose of iodine (known as Wolff-Chaikoff effect).
  • Minor effects are metallic taste in the mouth, increased salivation, GI irritation, and acneiform skin lesions.

Signs of Iodine Toxicity

Harmless amount of iodine contained in medicine results in these initial symptoms:

  • Burning mouth and throat
  • Head cold symptoms
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat and gums
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Toxicity from iodine is a risk as it eventually causes iodide goiter, hypothyroidism, or myxedema.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coma
  • Delirium
  • Fever
  • Lack of urine output
  • Seizure
  • Shock
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stupor
  • Swelling of face and body
  • Weak pulse

Side Effects of Iodine Poisoning

A patient with an overdose of iodine shows symptoms that are similar to iodine deficiency, such as goiter and hyperthyroidism.

Myxedema is a condition where the individual has dry skin and develops inflammation around the lips and nose. Severe effect is mental retardation. An overdose is the cause of thyroid papillary cancer.

Treatment for Iodine Toxicity

Washing hands with soap and water takes the toxic effect of iodine. Toxicity leading to poisoning is quite rare and can happen only when doses of many grams are taken. Treatment is to be given immediately while waiting for professional help.

  • Let the victim drink as much milk as possible, give milk every 15 minutes. If milk is unavailable, substitute with corn starch or flour missed with water.
  • Apply this treatment only when the victim is alert but discontinue treatment when victim is vomiting or having convulsions.
  • Activated charcoal is effective in decontaminating the stomach.
  • Bread containing enriched or bromated flour can be consumed as bromated flour absorbs excess iodine.