May 3, 2016

Lithium

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How does Lithium work?

Exactly how lithium works is unknown, but it might help mental disorders by increasing the activity of chemical messengers in the brain.

Are there safety concerns?

Lithium seems to be safe for most people when taken appropriately with careful monitoring by a healthcare provider. Lithium carbonate and lithium citrate have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But not enough is known about the safety of lithium orotate. Avoid using lithium orotate until more is known.

Lithium can cause nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue, and a dazed feeling. These unwanted side effects often improve with continued use. Fine tremor, frequent urination, and thirst can occur and may persist with continued use. Weight gain and swelling from excess fluid can also occur. Lithium can also cause or make skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and rashes worse. The amount of lithium in the body must be carefully controlled and is checked by blood tests.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Lithium can poison a developing baby (fetus) and can increase the risk of birth defects, including heart problems. However, when the benefits of giving lithium to the mother outweigh the risks to the fetus, lithium may be given by a healthcare provider, as long as there is careful monitoring.

Lithium treatment is UNSAFE in women who are breast-feeding. Lithium can enter breast milk and cause unwanted side effects in a nursing infant.

Heart disease: Lithium may cause irregular heart rhythms. This may be a problem, especially for people who have heart disease.

Kidney disease: Lithium is removed from the body by the kidneys. In people with kidney disease, the amount of lithium that is given might need to be reduced.

Surgery: Lithium might change levels of serotonin, a chemical that affects the central nervous system. There is some concern that lithium might interfere with surgical procedures that often involve anesthesia and other drugs that affect the central nervous system. Lithium use should be stopped, with the approval of a healthcare provider, at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Thyroid disease: Lithium might make thyroid problems worse.


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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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