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Radioactive Iodine Treatment
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Radioactive Iodine Treatment?

Radioactive iodine treatment is used to treat certain thyroid diseases and thyroid cancer. The procedure is done with a radioactive form of the element iodine. Radioactive iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland, where it treats disease by destroying the cells. However, the radioactivity is not spread to other parts of the body.

The Thyroid Gland
The Thyroid Gland
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

It may be done to treat hyperthyroidism , where the thyroid gland is overactive. The procedure is also used to treat certain types of cancers , including thyroid cancer .

Possible Complications

Possible side effects and complications of radioactive iodine therapy include:

  • Inflammation of the salivary glands causing painful cheeks and dry mouth
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Pain in the neck
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Flushing
  • Tightness in throat
  • Abnormally high or abnormally low thyroid hormone levels

Pregnant women are at an increased risk of complications. Since the procedure may be harmful to the fetus, it should not be done in pregnant women. Nursing mothers should stop breastfeeding for at least a week after the procedure.

Call Your Doctor

While side effects may occur, they are rarely severe. If the following persist for more than 24 hours, talk to your doctor:

  • Metallic...