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Lithium (By mouth)

Lithium (LITH-ee-um)

Treats and helps prevent manic episodes of bipolar disorder.

Brand Name(s):

Lith-Oro, Lithobid

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to lithium, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not give the extended-release tablets to anyone younger than 12 years of age.

How to Use This Medicine:

Capsule, Liquid, Tablet, Long Acting Tablet

  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • There are several different forms of lithium. The dose for each is different and they are used at different times of the day. Do not change the type of medicine you take without talking to your doctor first.
  • Oral liquid: Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
  • Capsule, tablet, or extended-release tablet: Swallow the medicine whole. Do not crush, break, or chew it.
  • Use only the brand of medicine your doctor prescribed. Other brands may not work the same way.
  • Missed dose: Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Some foods and medicines can affect how this medicine works. Tell your doctor if you are using any of the following:
    • Acetazolamide, buspirone, carbamazepine, fentanyl, fluoxetine, methyldopa, metronidazole, phenytoin, potassium iodide, sodium bicarbonate, theophylline, tramadol, tryptophan, St John's wort
    • Antacid
    • Blood pressure medicine
    • Diuretic (water pill)
    • Medicine for depression (including MAO inhibitor, SSRI, SNRI, TCA)
    • Medicine to treat mental illness (including haloperidol)
    • NSAID pain or arthritis medicine (including celecoxib, ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam)
    • Triptan medicine

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, heart or blood vessel disease (including Brugada syndrome), brain or nerve problems, or thyroid problems.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Lithium toxicity
    • Heart problems
    • Kidney problems
    • Brain problems (including encephalopathic syndrome, pseudotumor cerebri)
    • Serotonin syndrome (when used with certain medicines)
  • Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate
  • Confusion, problems with walking or balance, muscle movements you cannot control
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, or drowsiness
  • Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Mild nausea
  • Mild thirst

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 3/19/2020

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