Lithium is a medication that acts by reducing unusual brain activity.


What is Lithium?


Lithium is used to treat and prevent manic episodes in people suffering from bipolar disorder. Moreover, it can also be used against depression, schizophrenia, compulsive disorders and certain psychiatric diseases that affect children.


How should Lithium be taken?


Lithium is commercially available for oral use, usually in the form of tablets, capsules, extended-release tablets or solutions. The dosage varies from 2 to 4 doses per day depending on the formulation taken.

The doctor may prescribe an initial dose and then increase or decrease it in order to adjust it during treatment.


Side effects associated with Lithium


The possible side effects of lithium may include:


  • Restlessness
  • Small movements of the hands that are difficult to control
  • Little thirsty
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive salivation
  • Changes in taste
  • Swollen lips
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Cold
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Itching
  • Rash


You should immediately contact a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:


  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Strong thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty moving
  • Blackout
  • Convulsions
  • Fainting, dizziness or light headedness
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Sound or visual hallucinations
  • Eyes that intersect
  • Fingers that are cold or pale or hurt
  • Headache
  • Annoying noises in the head
  • Swelling of feet, ankles or calves


On the other hand, immediately stop taking lithium and call a physician if the medication triggers the following:


  • Drowsiness
  • Uncontrollable tremors
  • Weakness or muscle stiffness or tics
  • Loss of coordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Vision problems


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Lithium


Initially, to benefit from taking lithium you may need to take it from one to three weeks, but the intake should never be interrupted without consulting your doctor. Moreover, lithium can compromise the ability to drive and operate dangerous machinery.


Therefore, prior to undergoing treatment with lithium it is important to tell your doctor if:


 You have allergies to the active substance or other drugs

 You are taking other medications, herbal remedies and supplements, especially diuretics, acetazolamide, aminophylline, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor antagonists, antacids, caffeine, calcium channel blockers, drugs, methyldopa, metronidazole, NSAIDs, potassium iodide, SSRI and theophylline

You are suffering (or have suffered) from heart, kidney, brain, thyroid diseases, the Brugada syndrome, if you are ever passed out for no reason, or if you have family history of sudden or unexplained deaths

You are pregnant or breastfeeding


Finally, it is also recommended to inform surgeons and dentists about treatments with lithium before any surgical intervention.