Lithium

Generic Name: Lithium

  • What is Lithium?

    Lithium is a medicine used to treat manic episodes of bipolar disorder. A manic episode is a time of elevated, unreserved, or irritable mood. Lithium is also used in the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Lithium is available in capsules, a solution, and tablets.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Lithium?

    It may take up to three weeks before you see any improvement in your symptoms.

    While taking lithium, it is very important that you follow your doctor's recommendations and make sure you do not miss any appointments or laboratory tests.

    Toxic levels of this medication can occur at any dose and frequent blood tests will be required. You should stop taking lithium and tell your doctor immediately if you develop signs of lithium toxicity, such as diarrhea, drowsiness, mild lack of coordination, muscular weakness, tremor, or vomiting.

  • Who should not take Lithium?

    Do not take lithium if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients. Also, do not take lithium if you are allergic to Lithobid, Eskalith, Eskalith CR, or any of their components.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Lithium?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with lithium. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have a history of kidney or heart disease, thyroid problems, severe debilitation, dehydration, low sodium levels, or are receiving diuretics (water pills).

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Acute Mania in Bipolar Disorder

    Adults:
    Capsules and tablets: The optimal dose is 600 milligrams (mg) three times a day. Solution: The optimal dose is 10 milliliters (mL) taken as 2 full teaspoons three times a day.

    Long-Term Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

    Adults:
    Capsules and tablets: The usual dose is 300 mg three or four times a day. Solution: The usual dose is 1 full teaspoon three or four times a day.

    If you have kidney impairment, your doctor will adjust your dose appropriately.

  • How should I take Lithium?

    Take lithium exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take extra doses or take more often without asking your doctor. Do not chew or crush lithium tablets or capsules; swallow them whole.

  • What should I avoid while taking Lithium?

    Do not stop taking lithium without consulting your doctor first.

    Do not drive or operate dangerous machinery or participate in activities that require full mental alertness until you know how lithium affects you.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Lithium?

    If lithium is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining lithium with the following: blood pressure/heart medications in a class known as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (such as enalapril or fosinopril), diuretics (such as furosemide or hydrochlorothiazide), haloperidol, neuromuscular blocking agents (such as atracurium or succinylcholine), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (such as celecoxib, ibuprofen, or naproxen).

  • What are the possible side effects of Lithium?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: blurred vision, confusion, decreased appetite, diarrhea, dry mouth, frequent urination, general discomfort, sleepiness, slurred speech, temporary and mild nausea, tiredness, tremor, vomiting

  • Can I receive Lithium if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Lithium may cause harm to your unborn baby if you take it during pregnancy. Do not breastfeed while you are taking lithium. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Lithium?

    If you miss a dose of lithium, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

  • How should I store Lithium?

    Store at room temperature, in a dry place, and away from light.