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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lithium Side Effects in Detail -

Lithium Side Effects in Detail -

For the Consumer

Applies to lithium: oral capsule, oral solution, oral syrup, oral tablet, oral tablet extended release
Along with its needed effects, lithium may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking lithium:
Less common
  • Confusion, poor memory, or lack of awareness
  • fainting
  • fast or slow heartbeat
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • irregular pulse
  • stiffness of the arms or legs
  • troubled breathing (especially during hard work or exercise)
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain
  • Blue color and pain in the fingers and toes
  • coldness of the arms and legs
  • dizziness
  • eye pain
  • headache
  • noise in the ears
  • vision problems
Incidence not known
  • Dry, rough skin
  • fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
  • hair loss
  • hoarseness
  • lightheadedness
  • mental depression
  • sensitivity to cold
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of the feet or lower legs
  • swelling of the neck
  • unusual excitement
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking lithium:
Symptoms of overdose
  • Blurred vision
  • clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness
  • increase in the amount of urine
  • lack of coordination
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • ringing in the ears
  • slurred speech
  • trembling (severe)
Some side effects of lithium may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Less common
  • Acne or skin rash
  • bloated feeling or pressure in the stomach
  • muscle twitching (slight)

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to lithium: compounding powder, oral capsule, oral syrup, oral tablet, oral tablet extended release
Nervous system
The hand tremor associated with lithium therapy is usually a fine rapid intentional tremor. Coarsening of the tremor or occurrence of tremor in a new part of the body may suggest lithium toxicity.

A wide variety of other nervous system effects have been reported and include ataxia, dysarthria, hyperreflexia, other movement disorders, EEG changes, blackouts, stupor, coma, central incontinence, sleep disturbances, dizziness, vertigo, pseudotumor cerebri, seizures, and worsening of organic brain syndrome.

One study (n=34) has concluded that chronic maintenance treatment with lithium affects the peripheral nerves even if the impairment rarely leads to discontinuation of therapy. This study suggests that monitoring of electroneuronographic results could be useful for the early detection of neurotoxicity of lithium.
Nervous system side effects most commonly have included nervous system effects include tremor, lethargy, lassitude, and muscle weakness. Headache, decreased concentration and confusion also have been reported less frequently. Most of these effects resolve during continuing therapy.
Gastrointestinal side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, abdominal pain, and dry mouth have been reported frequently.
Taking lithium with meals or dividing doses may ameliorate some of the gastrointestinal effects of lithium.

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