Iodine Intolerance – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Iodine intolerance

Iodine intolerance refers to an intolerance or allergy to products containing iodine. It leads to severe cold symptoms, among other things, but is very treatable. The little-researched iodine allergy can also be prevented.

What is iodine intolerance?

Iodine intolerance is an allergy to foods containing iodine, medicines and other products such as X-ray contrast media and medicines. Contact with products containing iodine leads to various, sometimes serious symptoms such as shortness of breath , tachycardia or itching .

As the disease progresses, other diseases and allergies can also develop from these symptoms, which is why early treatment by a doctor is recommended. In the case of iodine intolerance, prevention is the method of choice. Most complaints can be avoided simply by consciously avoiding foods containing iodine.

However, if there is contact with foods containing iodine and the associated symptoms, treatment with antihistamines and other light medications is possible.


The exact causes of iodine intolerance are still unknown. It is assumed that hereditary influences on the one hand and increasing environmental pollution on the other promote the development of corresponding allergies. Likewise, too little contact with germs at a young age can promote the development of iodine intolerance.The allergy is also said to be promoted by too much or too little iodine intake. A connection between diseases of the thyroid gland such as Graves’ disease and iodine intolerance is also conceivable. It has been proven that a high intake of iodine can accelerate and exacerbate the course of the disease.

It is generally assumed that iodized salt itself leads to iodine intolerance, although there is no scientific evidence of this as yet. In detail, iodine intolerance causes dysregulation in the immune system, which can then lead to typical cold symptoms and other symptoms such as itching and shortness of breath.

Although iodine itself is not a pathogen, the body reacts accordingly and tries to excrete the substance – the result is a cold and diarrhea . The expected habituation effect does not occur here, which is why those affected often only complain about complaints years later and suffer from symptoms that become stronger over time.

Symptoms, Ailments and Signs

Iodine intolerance can manifest itself through a wide variety of symptoms, the severity of which can vary greatly. Typical signs include itching and a rash , as well as hives . Symptoms also include red and watery eyes and other cold symptoms such as a runny nose.

Likewise, iodine acne and eczema can occur primarily on the neck, but can also spread to the entire body. Iodine intolerance can also cause throat swelling and associated breathing difficulties. Swelling and angioedema can also occur in other areas of the face and mouth such as the mouth, lips, tongue and throat .

In severe cases, this can lead to anaphylactic shock or an asthma attack . This is preceded by symptoms such as shortness of breath, an increased heartbeat and a strong feeling of tightness in the throat. Other symptoms can range from tiredness and drowsiness to fever , as well as diarrhea , dizziness and a drop in blood pressure.

Coughing and a general feeling of being unwell can also be among the symptoms of iodine intolerance. It can also lead to severe headaches and joint pains and lethargy , along with physical and psychological complications. By changing your diet, most symptoms disappear after a few days or weeks.

Diagnosis & disease progression

Iodine intolerance can usually be diagnosed by those affected based on the symptoms themselves. For precise clarification, a doctor must be consulted, who can diagnose the allergy using various methods such as the Select 181 test. First, a blood sample is taken, which is then tested for the corresponding antigen.

Depending on the doctor’s assumptions, further blood or antibody tests are then carried out in order to be able to narrow down the causes of the allergy. An exact diagnosis is only possible after an allergy test and a comprehensive medical history. A look at the previous medical file also provides information about possible allergies and thus allows a final diagnosis.


As a rule, iodine intolerance is not a particularly serious illness, which is why no particular complications are to be expected. In most cases, this sole can be limited relatively well. If there is contact or ingestion of iodine, those affected suffer from the symptoms of a cold.A reddish rash also appears on the skin, which can be associated with itching. It is not uncommon for swelling to occur in various regions of the body, and the mouth can also be affected by the swelling. Tiredness or drowsiness also occurs. Patients also suffer from diarrhea and vomiting.

The quality of life is relatively severely restricted by the symptoms of iodine intolerance. Pain generally occurs in different parts of the body. It is not uncommon for patients to suffer from psychological problems or depression.

Iodine intolerance can be limited with the help of medication. Likewise, the person affected must limit the consumption of iodine-containing foods so that the symptoms do not occur. Other complications usually do not arise.

When should you go to the doctor?

If abnormalities and irregularities occur when consuming iodine-containing foods, creams or toothpaste, a doctor’s visit is necessary to clarify the cause. An itchy nose, breathing difficulties, swelling of the mucous membranes or problems with smell are health impairments that must be examined by a doctor. If you have a cough, sputum, sneezing or red eyes, you need to see a doctor.

Shortness of breath, pauses in breathing, or a feeling of tightness in the chest are causes for concern. A doctor should be consulted before an emergency situation develops due to lack of oxygen. Swelling of the face or neck, general changes in the complexion, the formation of eczema, rashes or redness are indications of an existing intolerance. Visual changes to the lips, mouth, tongue or swelling in the throat area must be examined by a doctor.

Digestive disorders, stomach problems, diarrhoea, flatulence or cramps are considered unusual and should be examined. In severe cases, the affected person is at risk of anaphylactic shock. An ambulance must be called and first aid measures must be taken as soon as the first signs of this exceptional situation appear. If the person concerned loses consciousness, care must be taken to ensure breathing in order to ensure survival.

Treatment & Therapy

If iodine is taken despite an iodine intolerance, comprehensive treatment of the respective symptoms is necessary. For example, itching, rashes, and other skin reactions that typically occur as a result of an iodine allergy are treated with over-the-counter antihistamines.

Predominantly drugs are prescribed that widen the airways and relieve the pulmonary tract. In acute cases, the stress hormone epinephrine can be injected, which usually stops the allergic reaction.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis of iodine intolerance depends on the use of medical treatment and the use of self-help measures. Without adequate medical care, a sharp increase in complaints and other illnesses can be expected. Those affected report a decrease in quality of life and limitations in everyday life due to the symptoms. In addition to physical irregularities, iodine intolerance can also lead to psychological problems. In particularly severe cases, anaphylactic shock can occur. This is associated with a potential threat to one’s own life and can take a fatal course.

If the person concerned takes medical and medical care, the iodine intolerance is not a worrying disease. The administration of medicines alleviates the symptoms and improves general well-being. In addition, those affected can regulate the consumption of iodine themselves through their food intake and thus make a significant contribution to maintaining their health. With a balanced diet, the symptoms of the disease can be significantly reduced.

Due to the possibility of medical care and the large number of self-help options, iodine intolerance usually has a good prognosis. If the patient reacts to the first irregularities, an improvement can be achieved quickly.


Iodine intolerance can best be counteracted by moderate consumption of iodine-containing foods. If products with iodine are deliberately avoided, there are usually no more complaints. The outbreak of an intolerance can be avoided by taking a few simple measures that reduce the general risk of allergies.

Of course, all vaccinations recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission should be carried out. Regular hand washing and the use of special care products for people with iodine intolerance also help. In general, all allergy triggers should be avoided, although this turned out to be difficult in the case of iodine due to the fluctuating information on the iodine content in food.

Telephone information services and the Internet, as well as many magazines now, provide up-to-date information on products containing iodine and ways to avoid contact with them. In the case of an existing intolerance, it is recommended to completely avoid iodine. If you come into contact with iodine, whether through diet, x-rays or medication, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.


Aftercare measures are usually severely restricted in the case of iodine intolerance. Therefore, the focus is on the rapid diagnosis and treatment of the disease so that there are no further complications or a further deterioration of the symptoms. The earlier the iodine intolerance is detected, the better the further course of the disease.

The affected person should consult a doctor at the first symptoms and signs of the disease so that the intolerance can be recognized quickly. Since iodine intolerance is also hereditary in some cases, genetic testing and counseling can be useful if you want to have children in order to prevent the disease from recurring in the descendants.

Iodine intolerance is usually treated by correct dietary changes. Those affected should follow the doctor’s instructions and avoid certain foods. With an increased intake of iodine, medication can also be used that can alleviate the symptoms.

You should always pay attention to the correct dosage and regular use. Since this intolerance can usually affect the entire body, regular examinations of the internal organs should be carried out.

You can do that yourself

The treatment of iodine intolerance is primarily limited to avoiding iodine and foods containing iodine. Those affected are recommended to draw up a nutrition plan together with their family doctor or a nutritionist. A diet makes it easier to avoid such products and also contributes to a healthy and balanced diet . This also strengthens the immune system and, in case of doubt, the allergic reactions are less intense.In the long term, only a vaccination from your family doctor helps against iodine intolerance. Intestinal cleansing can rarely eliminate or at least alleviate the intolerance. Appropriate measures are best carried out in consultation with a doctor so that complications do not arise later. However, the most effective remedy for allergic reactions is complete avoidance of iodine. If iodine is nevertheless taken once, treatment of the individual symptoms is necessary. Itching , rash, and other skin reactions are treated with over -the- counter antihistamines .

A good natural alternative is marigold oil . Exercise or a cool shower help against tiredness and drowsiness. A short shower also prevents coughing, lethargy and some other symptoms of iodine allergy.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.