Introduction Lithium is a drug used for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Brand names of lithium are Eskalith, Lithibid, Lithinate and Lithotabs.
Purpose of lithium is to alleviate bipolar depression, reduce rate of recurrence and severity of the disorder. It also reduces risk of suicide attempt and inhibits forthcoming manic episodes. Thereby it may be given for long time as a support therapy.
Bipolar disorder is usually treated with several medications but lithium alone can be in some cases enough.
Lithium EffectLithium has an effect on central nervous system, on the brain and spinal cord. It is unknown how it effects on the mood of patient. Still, it is helpful in bipolar disorder because sufferer gains control over emotions and behavioral and mood changes become reduced.
Two weeks after beginning of lithium therapy, the drug shows first results.
Since lithium affects kidney and thyroid function, it is necessary to regularly check blood. It is preferable to maintain constant level of lithium in the body which mustn’t be too high or too low.
When taking lithium, you should drink 12 glasses of water or fluid as well as keep normal quantity of salt intake, since fluid and salt have influence of blood lithium level.
Side effects of lithium are present but not severe.
Side effects are reduced after couple of weeks when body adapts to lithium or can be alleviated when the dosage is changed. But, it is vital not to change dosage of lithium without consulting your doctor.
Lithium side effects involve frequent urination, hand tremor, diarrhea, thirst, vomiting, memory damages, gaining weight, concentration loss, sleepiness, acne, loss of hair, muscle weakness, impaired thyroid function.
Important thing is to tell your physician if you have constant symptoms induced by lithium and in case that confusion and slurred speech, vomiting, high body temperature, fainting or increased heart rate occur.
It is necessary that you inform your physician if you have history of epilepsy, allergies and heart and kidney diseases. Also, lithium mustn’t be combined with sodium products and alcohol.
You shouldn’t drive and handle heavy machinery when taking lithium.
Dose shouldn’t be skipped but if it happens don’t take double dose, just continue with regular lithium dose timetable.
RisksLithium carries certain risks. In children, lithium may damage bones. In pregnant women, it may harm fetus especially in the first trimester. Breast milk can contain lithium therefore breast feeding isn’t recommended while on therapy. Prolonged lithium therapy can harm kidneys.