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Lithium is an element found in the third position in the periodic table. This lithium element in its ionized state finds application in pharmacology. Lithium can be used as a drug for treatment of various diseases. A number of chemical salts in combination with lithium are often used for treatment of bipolar disorder. In cases of bipolar disorder, lithium not only acts as a mood stabilizing drug but also plays a vital role in curing mania and depression.
Lithium treatment: -
Lithium treatment is generally carried out in case of mania in bipolar disorder, acute depression and suicidal tendencies. Initially, lithium was administered in association with other antipsychotic drugs because the former used to take a lot of time in showing any effect. Lithium is also sometimes used in the treatment of cycloid psychosis, migraine, unipolar depression, etc. It is often used as an enhancer of standard drugs which are used in treating unipolar depression.
What are the possible side effects of lithium?
There are various side effects of lithium in a patient’s body. In order to avoid complications related to lithium treatment, physicians usually scrutinizes the medical history of the patient very well before prescribing lithium drugs. In addition to this, the patient also has to undergo a blood test, kidney test as well as thyroid test on a regular basis during the course of the treatment in order to monitor the level of lithium in the body. The required dose of lithium is usually about 17mg per kilogram body weight of the patient. This dosage level is quite close to the toxic level so in order to prevent toxicity the doctors undertake lot of precautionary
measures before and during the lithium treatment.
Some of the side effects associated with lithium administration include: -
• Dehydration of the body.
• Can cause encephalopathy when administered with high doses of flupenthixol, haloperidol and fluphenazine.
• In high doses lithium can cause tremor, nystagmus, ataxia, convulsions as well as renal impairment.
• Nausea, headache and vomiting.
• Can cause diabetes insipidus.
• Gastrointestinal discomfort, muscle weakness and vertigo.