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What Are the Symptoms of Iodine Poisoning?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 July 2014
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Iodine is a chemical element that is primarily found naturally in soil. It plays a major role in the role of the functioning of the thyroid, a gland that helps controls a variety of body functions, such as metabolizing the nutrients in food into usable energy, as well as guiding the body through the different stages of development. Iodine generally makes its way into the body through the consumption of food containing iodine; however, the element may also be sold in liquid or pill supplements. Although iodine deficiency tends to be more common of a concern since it may affect thyroid functioning, iodine poisoning may also be potentially dangerous and cause severe symptoms and complications. Iodine poisoning may be caused by consuming food with an excess amount of the element, or by overdosing on iodine supplements.

Some of the most common symptoms of iodine poisoning generally occur in the mouth. A person may first notice a strange, metallic taste in his or her mouth. Pain in the mouth and throat ranging from mild to severe burning may also develop as a result of poisoning.

Other symptoms of iodine poisoning may vary depending on the severity of the incident. At the beginning stages, a person may experience nausea. In more severe instances of poisoning, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea may occur. Poisoning may also cause coughing, fever, thirst, and stomach pain. Although these symptoms are generally considered common, they may still be dangerous if they occur with other, more potentially fatal conditions.

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Although death tends to be considered relatively rare in iodine poisoning, the condition can become serious and life-threatening. One of the most serious symptoms is seizures. If a person begins convulsing and loses consciousness, vomiting can become extremely dangerous because it could pose a choking hazard, especially if the person is alone when it occurs. Other serious symptoms that may occur include difficulty breathing, shock, the inability to urinate, and delirium.

If iodine poisoning is suspected, it is typically recommended to seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will then usually evaluate the patient to ensure his or her vital signs are healthy, and then may provide oxygen to the patient if he or she is having difficulty breathing. To flush the excess iodine out of the system, a doctor may insert a tube into the patient’s stomach through his or her nose or mouth, and intravenously give fluids into the stomach to remove the poison from the body. Recovery can vary depending on the severity of the poisoning and how quickly medical attention was received, but death or permanent complications do not tend to occur after the poisoning incident.

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