Iodine and potassium iodide (Oral)


One of the most common uses for strong iodine (iodine coupled with potassium iodide) is providing protection to the thyroid gland during any kind of radioactive treatment that uses iodine or one of its derivatives. Generally, in such cases, a patient would be administered a dosage of strong iodine both before and after exposure to the radioactive agent, to ensure that sufficient protection for the thyroid is provided. This treatment approach is also used after accidental exposures to radiation sources, for instance in any mishap that might occur at a nuclear power plant.

Patients who have an iodine deficiency in their bodies can be given strong iodine as a way of making up for that deficiency and supplying the needed iodine. However, many patients experience an upset stomach when taking strong iodine by itself, so it is advisable to take the medication with a full glass of water or juice and with a meal. This will lessen the likelihood of stomach issues that might develop after ingestion.

Condition Treated

  • Iodine deficiency
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Protection of the thyroid from radioactive agents

Type Of Medicine

  • Antithyroid agent

Side Effects

Along with the beneficial effects that strong iodine provides to a patient who has an iodine deficiency or a patient who requires thyroid protection during a treatment with radioactive agents, there are some possibly undesirable side effects that may be experienced, as well. Most of these are relatively mild in nature, and some of them will fade away on their own a few days after treatment.

If you should experience side effects that become extremely uncomfortable in nature, you should contact your doctor at the earliest opportunity and convey the nature of these side effects, as well as their severity. One of the more uncommon side effects that is also one of the most severe is an allergic reaction to strong iodine. If you should experience any of the side effects listed below that characterize an allergic reaction, you should immediately seek medical attention, since these symptoms have the potential to become life-threatening.

  • Extreme swelling or puffiness of the eyelids, tongue, lips or throat
  • Persistent itching at various sites around the body
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness, as though you are about to pass out
  • Severe difficulty with breathing, usually accompanied by a pronounced tightness of the chest
  • The appearance of hives or rashes on skin surfaces

Some of the less severe side effects that can occur for patients are those listed below, and although many of these are characterized by infrequent occurrence after treatment with strong iodine, they are listed because they have been reported by at least some patients, and are considered to be legitimate side effects.

  • Severe headaches
  • Constant watering of the mouth
  • Heaviness or weakness of the legs
  • Unexplained tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms of a head cold
  • Burning in the throat or in the mouth
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Soreness of your gums or teeth
  • Weakness, pain, tingling sensations or numbness in the feet or the hands
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pains or cramps
  • Abdominal pains or cramps


The precise dosage of this medication will likely differ from one patient to another, since the doses recommended by your doctor will be dependent upon several factors. Included among these factors are the actual medical condition you are being treated for, your body's tolerance to the medication, the strength of the medication you are administered, the frequency of dosages that you are given and the duration of time over which you are treated with strong iodine.

If you should miss a dosage of strong iodine, you can take it as soon as you remember to, unless that time is very close to the next regularly scheduled dosage time. In this case, it's better to skip the missed dosage entirely and simply wait for the time of the next regular dosage. It's never advisable to double up on dosages simply to get back on schedule, or because you think you need more medication at any given time.

The dosages listed below are considered standard for the situation and the type of patient being served. They are to be understood as a template version of what might be administered, and not an actual dosage, in your particular case.

For an oral dosage treating an overactive thyroid

In adult or teenage patients:

1 mL of solution administered three times daily, with the first dose taken at least an hour after the initial dosage of an anti-thyroid medication.

In children:

the dosage will be calculated by the family doctor based upon age and other factors.

For preparation prior to surgery that removes the thyroid gland

In patients who are adults, teenagers or children: approximately .1 to .3 mL should be administered three times a day for the 10 days prior to scheduled surgery. In almost all cases, this medicine will be administered in tandem with an anti-thyroid medication.

For protection against radiation exposure to the thyroid gland

In adults and teenagers:

130 mg should be administered one time daily for 10 days in succession.

In children:

65 mg should be administered once per day for 10 days in succession.

For the treatment of iodine deficiency

In adults and teenagers:

a dosage of .3 mL to 1 mL should be administered either three or four times per day.

In children:

an appropriate dosage will be calculated by the family doctor based on age and other factors.


There is the potential for strong iodine to interact with other drugs and to impart adverse side effects to the patient when this occurs. It's also possible that, when certain drugs interact with strong iodine, either or both of them can be diminished in effectiveness, and thereby rendered less useful.

To avoid this possibility, it will be worth your while to compile a list of all of the medications that you are currently using, including over the counter drugs, other prescription drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements, as well as the current dosage you are taking for each one of these.

When your doctor has a chance to review this medication list, they can make a determination on whether or not any of these other drugs will interact with strong iodine to cause any problems. This list can also be used if you have to go to a healthcare clinic where your primary care doctor is not in residence, or if you need to make an unscheduled trip to an emergency room for treatment. Any doctor at one of these two facilities would be able to check your medication list and then be able to safely prescribe a program of treatment for you that does not interact with any of your medications.

The other drugs that are most frequently checked by doctors for potential interaction with strong iodine are the following:

  • Warfarin
  • Anisindione
  • Phencoproumon
  • Phenindione
  • Dicumarol
  • Acenocoumarol

In addition to interactions with other drugs, there is the potential for strong iodine to interact with a medical condition you might already have, thereby exacerbating the condition and triggering the need for medical attention. Make sure to alert your doctor if you have had any of these medical conditions in your history:

  • Kidney disease¬†' if you have kidney disease in your history, it's possible for strong iodine to increase your potassium levels and worsen any side effects that the drug has
  • Hyperkalemia¬†' strong iodine may cause too much potassium in your blood stream
  • Bronchitis and other lung conditions 'there is a possibility that strong iodine can cause any of these conditions to worsen


You should make sure to schedule regular visits with your doctor, so they can determine whether the medication is working as intended and whether your body is tolerating the medication adequately. If you experience any of the side effects described elsewhere in this document, you should discuss this with your doctor so that alternative strategies can be considered.

Since this medication does contain potassium, all patients who are on a low-potassium diet should alert their doctor to this fact and discuss whether or not strong iodine should be discontinued temporarily or whether a lower dosage might be indicated.

Make sure to alert your doctor if you are allergic to this medication or if you have any allergies at all, since these could potentially be triggered by ingredients within strong iodine.

If infants take strong iodine, there is a possibility that they might develop rashes and potentially thyroid problems, too. For this reason, it is generally inadvisable for patients of an extremely young age to be given this medicine, and, if it is administered, close monitoring of the thyroid and the overall skin conditions should be part of treatment.

There is no evidence that suggests that harm may come to unborn fetuses of mothers who are taking strong iodine. There is likewise no evidence that suggests nursing infants can be harmed by taking in breast milk from a mother being treated with strong iodine. All the same, if you plan to become pregnant, are already pregnant or if you plan to breast feed, these situations should be reviewed with your doctor.


This medication should be stored at room temperature in a location that is not subject to any extremes of humidity, cold, heat or direct light, since any of these may diminish its effectiveness. It should be kept well out of the reach of pets and small children, and should not be stored in a weekly pill reminder, since these are seldom equipped with locking mechanisms and that could allow unwanted access. Do not use expired strong iodine; instead, you should discard it according to proper disposal procedures. These can be provided by your doctor or pharmacist.


Iodine and potassium iodide are commonly referred to as 'strong iodine', and the medicine has several important uses for patients. First among these is to supply amounts of iodine for patients who have a deficiency of it. It can also be used to protect the thyroid gland when a patient is being administered a treatment of some radioactive agent. Lastly, it can also be used to treat an overactive thyroid and bring the body back into balance.