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Potassium Iodide Information
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KI FAQs
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Questions and Answers About KI
  1. What is KI?

    KI (Potassium Iodide) is an over-the-counter medication that can protect one part of the body, which is the thyroid, if you are exposed to inhalation or ingestion of radioactive iodine. KI fills our thyroid with stable iodine so that it cannot absorb radioactive iodine. If KI is taken before or shortly after exposure to radioactive iodine, it can protect the thyroid from being damaged by radioactive iodine.

  2. What does KI do?

    In the event of a threatened or actual nuclear power plant release, evacuation remains the best course of action for protecting your health.  Potassium iodide is not a replacement for evacuation.  It does not provide protection from full body irradiation or other radioactive elements that may be the result of a nuclear power plant release.  Potassium iodide only protects the thyroid gland from one form of radiation.  If there were an actual nuclear release, it would likely contain many types of radiation that may affect additional organs in the body. 
     
  3. Is KI safe?

    KI is considered safe for most people but can cause minor side effects such as gastrointestinal disturbances and rashes.  Those who are allergic to iodine should not take KI.  Anyone who is not sure if they can take KI should talk to their doctor.  Do not take KI unless public health officials tell you to do so. 

  4. Will pharmacies sell potassium iodide?
    Area Health Departments are working with several local pharmacy chains to encourage them to stock potassium iodide (KI) for those unable to make either distribution date, or those not eligible for the free distribution.  View list of pharmacies will carry KI.

  5. How long does a dose of potassium iodide last?

    Each dose lasts for approximately 24 hours.

  6. Will KI protect me? What should I do if there is a radiological event?

    In the event of a threatened or actual nuclear power plant release, evacuation remains the best course of action for protecting your health. Potassium iodide is not a replacement for evacuation. It does not provide protection from full body irradiation or other radioactive elements that may be the result of a nuclear power plant release. Potassium iodide only protects the thyroid gland from one form of radiation. If there were an actual nuclear release, it would likely contain many types of radiation that may affect additional organs in the body.

  7. How do I know how much to take and to give to my children?

    Each person in the family will be given 2 pills. You should use the following chart to determine the dose for each person in the family. You can use a sharp knife to break the pills and for small children, they might take it easier if it is crushed and put in some food or liquid they like.

    AGE GROUPS KI DOSE AMOUNT OF 130mg PILL

    Adult over 18 yrs. 130 mg (1 pill) 1 pill
    Over 3-18 yrs 65 mg 1/2 pill
    Over 1mo-3 yrs 32mg. 1/4 pill
    Birth to 1 month 16mg. 1/8 pill

  8. What are the side effects of KI?

    Some individuals may experience minor side effects such as nausea, GI upset, and shin rash.  

  9. Doesn't my doctor have to determine whether I take the potassium iodine or not?

    As with any medication, you should discuss this with your physician. KI is used in small amounts in iodized salt. The FDA has determined that most people can safely take KI at the doses above.

  10. What if I am allergic to iodine?

    If you are allergic or have either of two rare disorders associated with allergy to iodine (dermatitis herpetiformis and hypocomplementemic vasculitis), you should not take KI.  

  11. What if I am pregnant?

    Pregnant women and newborns should not receive more than one dose of KI and should be checked by their doctor soon after taking KI to make sure thyroid function remains normal.

  12. What will happen if I don't have my KI when a nuclear release is announced?

     You will be able to get it at the shelter in the event of a nuclear release. 

  13. How will I know when to take KI?

    In the event of a release of radioactive material from a nuclear power plant, you will be advised through the Emergency Alert System and the media (radio and TV) of the protective actions you should be taking. These instructions could include: evacuate the area; stay inside; and /or take KI. Any recommendation to take KI will be made by public health authorities. Do not take KI before advised to do so by public health authorities.   

  14. My parents are elderly and both take a lot of medications. How will I know if it is safe for them to take this along with their regular medications?

    Check with their doctor ahead of time and ask the physician if it's ok for them to take KI.

  15. Where will I go to get my KI?

    This Web site lists the dates, times and locations of KI distribution for those living within the 10-mile radius of both nuclear sites.  

  16. Why am I not getting KI? I live 12 miles from the site. Who determined only those living within 10 miles of the nuclear plants got the KI free?

    The state has supplied only enough KI for those living within the 10-mile radiuses of both sites. KI will be available for persons living outside this range at local drugstores.  

  17. I visit my children sometimes and they live in the 10-mile zone. Don't you think I should get the KI since I might be there babysitting when the event happens?

    If you wish, you may purchase KI a at a local drugstore.

  18. I have lupus, should I take KI?

    Those persons with chronic illnesses should check with their physician before deciding to take anything other than that ordered by their physician.  

  19. I am taking chemo, should I take KI?

    Again, check with your physician.  

  20. Should my animals take KI?

    KI will NOT be distributed to animals. If you are concerned, check with your vet.  

  21. If I can't find my KI when the event occurs, where should I go to get it?

    If a nuclear concern develops, your first concern should be evacuation. If you don't have your KI at that time, you will be able to get it at shelters.  

  22. Will Medicaid pay for the KI? I don't live in the 10-mile zone, but would like to get some just in case. I can't afford what it might cost. What will it cost??

    Medicaid will not pay for an over-the-counter drug. KI is fairly inexpensive, about $9 to $10 for 10 pills.  

  23. I have children in college in Charlotte, where should I tell them to go to get the KI?

    If they are living within the 10-mile radius of the nuclear power plants, they will be able to obtain the KI at identified sites on 10/19/02 and 10/22/02. They should make a point of listening to the news and checking the newspaper for times they can pick up KI. They may also buy it from a drug store or on the Internet.

  24. How long is KI good for? Where should I keep it that I will have it in the event of a meltdown?

    Potassium iodide has a shelf life of five years. It should not be kept in the car, the bathroom or kitchen due to the changing temperatures and humidity levels, since all drugs react to intense heat and cold.  

  25. I am on a low salt diet. Will it hurt me to take it?
     

    Potassium Iodine does not contain sodium. A low salt diet is used to reduce the amount of sodium.


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