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Drug

Lithium

Pronounced

"LITH-ee-um"

Uses

This medication is used to treat manic-depressive disorder (bipolar disorder). It works to stabilize the mood and reduce extremes in behavior by restoring the balance of certain natural substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain.

Some of the benefits of continued use of this medication include decreasing how often manic episodes occur and decreasing the symptoms of manic episodes, such as exaggerated feelings of well-being, feelings that others wish to harm you, irritability, anxiousness, rapid/loud speech, and aggressive/hostile behaviors.

Warning

It is very important to have the right amount of lithium in your body. Too much lithium may lead to unwanted effects such as nausea, diarrhea, shaking of the hands, dizziness, twitching, seizures, slurred speech, confusion, or increase in the amount of urine. Tell your doctor right away if these effects occur.

There is only a small difference between the correct amount of lithium and too much lithium. Therefore, it is important that your doctor monitor you closely during treatment. Keep all medical and laboratory appointments while you are taking lithium.

Other Uses

This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

This drug may also be used to reduce the risk of a certain type of headache (cluster headache).

How to Use This Medication

Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking lithium and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

There are different brands and forms of this medication available. They may not have the same effects. Do not change brands or forms without asking your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually 3 to 4 times daily for adults and 2 to 3 times daily for children. Take lithium with or right after meals to lessen stomach upset. Drink 8 to 12 glasses (8 ounces/240 milliliters each) of water or other fluid each day, and eat a healthy diet with normal amounts of salt (sodium) as directed by your doctor or dietician while taking this medication. Large changes in the amount of salt in your diet may change your lithium blood levels. Do not change the amount of salt in your diet unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The dosage is based on your medical condition, lithium blood levels, and response to treatment. Children's dosage is also based on weight. For the best effect, take this medication regularly at evenly spaced times. To help you remember, take this medication at the same times every day.

If you are taking the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

This medication must be taken exactly as prescribed. It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not get better or if it gets worse. It may take 1 to 3 weeks to notice improvement in your condition.

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Information expires December 2019.