Potassium iodide is used to protect the thyroid gland from taking in radioactive iodine that may be released during a nuclear radiation emergency. Radioactive iodine can damage the thyroid gland. You should only take potassium iodide if there is a nuclear radiation emergency and public officials tell you that you should take it. Potassium iodide is in a class of medications called anti-thyroid medications. It works by blocking radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland.
Potassium iodide can protect you from the effects of radioactive iodine that may be released during a nuclear radiation emergency, but will not protect you from other dangerous substances that may be released during the emergency. Public officials may tell you to do other things to protect yourself during the emergency. Follow all of these directions carefully.
Potassium iodide comes as a liquid and a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day for as many days as public officials say it is needed. Take potassium iodide at around the same time every day. If you are told to take potassium iodide during a nuclear radiation emergency, you should not take it more often than once every 24 hours. Follow the directions on the package label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take potassium iodide exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it than directed on the package label. Taking potassium iodide more often will not give you more protection during the emergency, and will increase the risk that you may experience side effects.
The dose of potassium iodide you should take or give to your child depends on your age or your child's age. If potassium iodide is taken by a teenager between the ages of 12 to 18 years, the dose also depend on the teenager's weight. Check the package label to see what dose you should take yourself or give to your child. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or public official if you have questions.
Potassium iodide tablets can be crushed and mixed with water and certain other liquids including low-fat white or chocolate milk, flat soda, orange juice, raspberry syrup, or infant formula so that they can be given to children or people who cannot swallow tablets. Check the package label to find out how to make this mixture and how much of this mixture you should take or give to your child. If you do make a mixture, store it in the refrigerator and use it within 7 days. Throw away any unused mixture after 7 days.
Read the manufacturer's information for the patient carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Potassium iodide is also sometimes used to treat overactive thyroid gland and sporotrichosis (a skin infection caused by a fungus). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one and do not take 2 doses less than 24 hours apart.
metallic taste in the mouth
swelling of the face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, or feet
trouble breathing, speaking, or swallowing
shortness of breath
lump under the skin at the base of the neck
Potassium iodide may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from light, excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Some bottles of potassium iodide may be safe to use after the expiration date stamped on the bottle; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to potassium iodide.
Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about potassium iodide.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 09/15/2011
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.