Side Effects of Radioactive Iodine


Radioactive iodine is used for therapeutic treatment aimed at controlling the production of thyroid hormones. Radioactive iodine is similar to ordinary iodine, which is contained in some food groups such as fish and is easily absorbed into the thyroid gland. It is available in either capsule or it could be taken by dissolving it in water. Radioactive iodine has some side effects.


When it is ingested, radioactive iodine can be quickly absorbed through the stomach into the blood stream, and then picked up in the thyroid gland. It acts to disrupt the functions of the thyroid gland to stop the production of an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Once this purpose is achieved, it results in the disappearance of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Side Effects

Radioactive iodine has several side effects. These side effects tend to occur infrequently. After taking this product, the patient may experience a sore throat after a few days of ingesting the drug. This side effect is generally controlled and treated with an acetaminophen product.

Salivary Gland Swellings

There may also be swellings associated with its usage. Swelling may affect the salivary glands. This rare occurrence is caused by the iodine product itself and has nothing to do with the radioactivity. A recommended way by many doctors to prevent the salivary glands from swelling is for the patient to suck some candies for few days after taking this product.


Some patients may experience some forms of nausea after taking radioactive iodine. The nausea may develop for a short period, usually lasting for a few hours. Doctors advice patients to avoid eating any food two hours before the surgery. They should also avoid eating two hours after swallowing radioactive iodine.


Some precautions should be taken because radioactive iodine does release a small amount of radiation around the neck after the drug is taken. The radiation is expected, but doctors warn that anyone who takes the radioactive iodine drug should avoid prolonged contact with a child or a pregnant woman so as not to expose such persons to radiation. An arm's length distance should be maintained between the patient and others.

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