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What is an Iodine Allergy?

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  • Written By: Adam Hill
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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An iodine allergy is an allergy to foods or other substances which contain the element iodine. Allergic reactions to iodine can vary for those affected by this allergy, but the most severe reaction is anaphylactic shock, which is fatal if not quickly treated. Less-severe allergic symptoms such as asthma, dizziness, and fever can also occur as a result of an iodine allergy. Most doctors think iodine allergy is extremely rare, and often confused for allergies to other substances.

Doctors must first test for an iodine allergy before administering contrast dye to a patient, due to the possible severe reaction the dye could cause. Apart from the allergy itself, some people are unable to effectively remove the iodine from their bodies. In these cases, the kidneys, which normally cleanse waste and excess fluid from the body, fail to remove the iodine, resulting in elevated levels throughout the body. Tests are necessary, because a known allergy to something like shellfish is not sufficient reason to forgo the use of iodinated contrast dye.

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Not all people who have an allergy to some things that contain iodine will be allergic to all things that do. Someone who is allergic to shellfish, which contains iodine, may not be allergic to a topical antiseptic that contains iodine, for example. This seems counterintuitive, but only because an allergy to iodine itself is so rare that it is not common to test for it. Iodine is an essential nutrient, necessary in small amounts for proper thyroid function. What is often seen as an iodine allergy is actually something much different.

When someone has an allergic reaction to shellfish, it is rarely because of the iodine itself, but because of a muscle protein present in these types of sea animals. The presence of iodine in shellfish is almost wholly incidental to the actual allergen. Similarly, when an allergic reaction to contrast dye occurs, this is because of other components of the dye rather than the iodine. Finally, the iodine solution used as an antiseptic contains more than just iodine, and it is the presence of these other ingredients that causes the reaction.

It is also worth noting that those with a so-called iodine allergy are almost never found to be allergic to iodide, a slightly different substance produced naturally by the body. Iodide is an ion that consists of an iodine atom with a single negative charge, indicating one extra electron. This ion forms parts of many compounds, some of which are added in small amounts to table salt to prevent iodine deficiency.

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anon278584
Post 9

Iodine is an essential element for life. I think you have misunderstood it's importance. No doubt you are intolerant or allergic to some compound, however I don't think it's the iodine mineral itself.

anon149343
Post 8

I had a allergy to shellfish and was deathly ill for two weeks. I have not touched shellfish since then. looking to see what might have caused this other than the shellfish. After that I was unable to eat chocolate, tomatoes and nuts.

anon133489
Post 7

all i know is when i go near the ocean i get bad headaches and have a hard time breathing. also if i am within 20-30 miles and it's raining the same thing happens.

anon118291
Post 6

I don't understand why doctors are saying this! I was able to eat all fish, seafood and salt. I had an IVP done at 18 for a possible kidney infection and arrested in the x-ay dept and woke up three days later! I could tell the diff between Iodized and uniodized salt for six months after. Even now I would not take a chance and let a doctor "try" one of these tests on me!

WalrusTusk
Post 5

@lmorales - That does seem pretty ridiculous. Are the iodine allergy treatments the same as any other typical allergy treatments? Would you have to avoid iodized salt? Please excuse my ignorance.

lmorales
Post 4

@leiliahrune - I agree with that sentiment. My mom was a CNM RN and delivered over a thousand babies in her lifetime - but got sued because some one's baby had down syndrome - a genetic disorder that could not be prevented by any of her means. Of course, the case was dismissed.

leiliahrune
Post 3

@anon78188 - I agree that there is a common misconception or misunderstanding, only when it comes to several different allergies and not just this particular iodine allergy.

While it's simple to say that the medical field must vastly change you should remember that the people (or most of them/some of them)got into the medical profession in order to help protect and save people's lives - not to hurt them and cover their buns so to speak.

On that note, you should also look to those who are throwing out frivolous lawsuits in regards to malpractice and how the people of the medical profession have adjusted to that. Just because an allergy treatment doesn't make you immune completely shouldn't mean that you should be able to sue - the allergy will always be there. Know where I'm coming from?

anon78188
Post 1

To say that iodine allergies are rare and 'not ever found' needs to tell that to the parents/family of those who have died due to iodine in contrast dyes.

I am allergic--both topical/dermal and internally, and it was the arrogance of such ideas that almost killed me at the age of nine. I know two other people who are systemically allergic to iodine in the same manner.

I do believe that this is also due to the misuse of contrast dyes and unnecessary diagnostics that our medical profession has levied upon their patients to keep themselves safe from malpractice and to reap the money that these tests create.

Much needs to be done to change the medical profession--and soon--before more die due to the misuse of contrast dyes, unhealthy amounts of iodine in test dyes (RAI-131--7,000 percent more than the body actually needs, and causes cancer of the thyroid).

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