Precautions for radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid

Many thyroid malfunction cases that are caused by a thyroid cancer are treated surgically. This involves invasive surgery that is conducted to remove the cancerous tissues.

Most patients that are treated surgically in this manner are asked to undergo radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) after a few months of the surgery. This therapy is recommended to the patients since radioactive iodine suppresses the growth of thyroid cells. It is administered in the form of a liquid or pills.

A lot of precaution needs to be taken for any treatment that involves radioactivity. And this is specifically true for RAI treatment. The procedures involved in the precautions that are outlined can be extremely lengthy, tiresome and difficult.

Patients are asked to adhere to a low iodine diet for almost a fortnight before the actual treatment. In most cases the physician stops all traditional thyroid medication before the process. The physician may also ask the patient to stop any natural thyroid medication that he may have been taking. In cases where hormonal supplements cannot be discontinued, the iodine levels in the body are reduced artificially by injecting recombinant TSH.

A low iodine diet does not mean a total ban on iodine. The American Thyroid Association recommends that a minimum of 50 mcg of iodine in a day is acceptable even if a low iodine diet is being maintained.

The diet regulations are similar to those that are provided in alternative thyroid treatments. These diets that are prepared specially for those who have thyroid malfunctioning ensure that the specific items listed on the diet chart contribute only the recommended levels of iodine.

Increase consumption of

* Fruits
* Raw or freshly cooked vegetables
* Unsalted nuts

Limited consumption or avoidance of

* Meats
* Grains, cereals and rice
* Iodized salt and sea salt.
* Any sea food in any form.
* Milk and milk products
* Chocolates - Cocoa and some other chocolates are permitted.
* Soybeans and soy products except soy oil and lecithin.

The RAI treatment is a simple procedure wherein the patients are free to go home after receiving the required dosage.

Majority of the radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid. Any unabsorbed radioactive iodine is discharged in the next couple of days through urine, feces, saliva and sweat. Certain precautions are necessary to ensure the safety of those around you.

* Keep away from children and pregnant women for at least eight days.
* Do not let any one come closer than 3 feet for more than one hour in a day. This precaution needs to be taken for the first five days.
* Take extra care of personal hygiene. Flush the toilet more than once after every use.
* Men have to take extra care to avoid any spill over while urination.
* Nursing women need to stop breast feeding totally.
* Doctor’s consultation is necessary before starting a pregnancy.

Even though the process involved in this thyroid treatment is simple, hospitalization may be required in some cases. This becomes necessary if there is an infant at home who needs to be protected from contamination. Patients are generally kept in isolation till the hospital is satisfied with regards to all safety concerns. All communication with staff and visitors is through an intercom.



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