Lithium
DESCRIPTION

Lithium is largely associated with the treatment of mental health issues, in particular those involving moods. Lithium contains the primary component lithium carbonate.

How it works

There is no definitive explanation for the effect of lithium in the body. Nonetheless, it has been determined that lithium plays a large role in certain parts of the brain. In particular, it is responsible for increasing volume and activity in parts of the brain that were previously smaller or less active. As a result, it works to balance certain tendencies that individuals may have. Lithium can especially be used to minimize mania or excitation in individuals.

Uses

Lithium is typically given to individuals who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lithium can help to alleviate the symptoms associated with the manic episodes that some individuals may experience. It may also work to limit the number of episodes or at least, decrease their severity.

Dosage

Lithium will only be prescribed to you after a thorough examination by a doctor. In order for Lithium to be effective, a certain amount of the drug needs to be maintained in your system. Therefore, a clinician will need to conduct certain tests in order to determine what the ideal level will be for you. It is vital that you follow any instructions that you have received implicitly. This will be important in ensuring that you receive the best possible treatment. Furthermore, it will also decrease the possibility of experiencing certain side effects.

Depending on the patient, the amount of Lithium that will need to be taken can vary from 900mg to 1800mg. This may be divided into two to three doses. Usually, for long term treatment, the dose may be slightly lower.

Side effects

There are certain adverse reactions that may manifest while taking Lithium. Some of these may be:

Acne-prone skin
Rashes
Slight twitching of the muscles
Reduced awareness
Poor memory
Loss of consciousness
Changes in heartbeat
Increased need to urinate
Greater thirst
Weight gain
Decrease in energy levels

These problems may go away after a short period of time. If they continue or become greater in severity, you should consult a medical professional.

Precautions

Taking Lithium while pregnant is dangerous as it may cause certain birth defects in the fetus.

You should not consume Lithium if you are aware that you are sensitive to it.

In certain instances, a condition known as lithium toxicity may occur. This can be identified by nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, loose bowel movements, tremors or weakness in the muscles, and a lack of coordination. You may also notice issues with your sight or sense of hearing. If this is something that you notice, contact your clinician immediately.

You should tell a medical professional about the following:

Frequent loss of consciousness
Abnormal EKG or ECG
Family members who have died before the age of 45
Issues relating to your kidneys, heart, or thyroid
Life threatening diseases
A reduced level of sodium in your system
Dehydration

Self-Care

Use adequate methods of birth control while taking Lithium to avoid becoming pregnant.

It is unwise to nurse a child while consuming Lithium as it can be passed through breast milk.

Lithium should not be given to children under the age of twelve unless a medical professional has deemed it necessary.

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