Iodine is a naturally occurring chemical. Small amounts are needed for good health. However, large doses can cause harm. Children are especially sensitive to the effects of iodine.
NOTE: Iodine is found in certain foods. However, there is normally not enough iodine in foods to harm the body. This article focusses on poisoning from exposure to non-food items that contain iodine.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Amiodarone (Cordarone)
- Lugol's solution
- Pima syrup
- Potassium iodide
- Radioactive iodine used for certain medical tests or the treatment of thyroid disease
- Tincture of iodine
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
Give the person milk, or cornstarch or flour mixed with water. Continue to give milk every 15 minutes. DO NOT give these items if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
Before Calling Emergency
If possible, determine the following information:
- Patient's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
- Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.
Poison Control, or a local emergency number
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to expect at the emergency room
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:
- Activated charcoal
- Breathing support
- Fluids and milk
- Medicines to treat symptoms
- Tube through the mouth or nose into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
How well a patient does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a patient gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Esophageal stricture is a possible complication. Death is possible, though unlikely.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2004. Toxicological Profile for iodine. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2006.
Last reviewed 2/2/2011 by Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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