The nuclear scare following the Fukushima accident last week made people all over the world alarmed over the possible health risks it may bring to themselves especially the young ones and pregnant women.
It is understandable to be concerned about the situation but it is important to be equipped with the accurate information to make sound judgment and know the proper action to take if the need arises.
Sudden or long-term health problems may occur following exposure from radiation particles after nuclear plant blasts.
Risk factors to health hazards depend on many factors such as the extent of exposure and distance from the nuclear source among others. Therefore, nuclear plant workers are at the highest risk of exposure. Residents living near the area are at increased risk that is why they were evacuated 30 kilometers away from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.
The Japanese authorities have screened hundreds of people for possible radiation exposure and have so far not reported any illnesses.
The Philippine Department of Health Website says that acute radiation poisoning or syndrome manifests as nausea, vomiting, fever or diarrhea. More serious symptoms such as hair loss and presence of blood in feces and vomitus may happen in more severe cases. Visit this link for more information.
People who are exposed should be decontaminated, which means removing all clothes and shoes and showering. To prevent organ damage, treatment is necessary.
The treatment is Potassium Iodide (KI). But before considering taking in KI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website advises that You should only take KI on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor. There are associated risks with KI intake. Click here for more detailed information.
KI is the medicine form of iodine. Iodine is also present in most foods that we eat such as cow's milk, eggs, mozzarella cheese, yogurt and strawberries.
The iodized table salt is a good source of the mineral under normal conditions but its iodine content is not high enough to counter the radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland once internal contamination has commenced. Therefore, CDC said "You should not use table salt as a substitute for KI."
Located in the lower part of the neck, the thyroid gland makes and stores hormones that regulate bodily functions like body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate among other things. Thyroid hormones help kids grow and develop.
KI acts by blocking the radioactive iodine from going in to the thyroid gland. Once the stable form of iodine is inside the thyroid it fills the gland. The thyroid cannot take anymore iodine for the next 24 hours.
It is also important to know that KI may not give full protection against harmful radioactive materials. KI's ability to block depends on how fast KI is absorbed in the bloodstream, the time lag between contamination and KI intake and the total amount of radioactive iodine a person is exposed.
The following people need to take KI following the advice of the authorities and doctors in their particular locality: infants (including breast-fed babies), children up to 18 years of age, young adults (18 to 40 years old) and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Visit this link for more info.
Adults (over 40) need not take KI unless otherwise advised by local authorities.
KI is available in liquid and tablet forms. It is taken in by mouth.
I have no idea what made some people consider the use of Betadine (povidone iodine) antiseptic as prophylaxis for radiation syndrome.
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found that red wine can protect against the damages brought about by radiation.
In a report by UK's The Telegraph, researchers found that the anti-oxidant resveratrol in red wines can protect the cells of mice in their experiments. Now, you don't have to drink Cabernet because you feel down from exposure to radiation. You will drink it to become healthy.
To highlight the importance of treatment from exposure to harmful radioactive materials, if you live far from the area, there is no reason to panic. Consult your physician and public health officials before considering to take potassium iodide.