Side Effects of Lithium


Lithium affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body. Sodium affects excitation or mania.

Lithium is used to treat the manic episodes of manic depression. Manic symptoms include hyperactivity, rushed speech, poor judgment, reduced need for sleep, aggression, and anger. It also helps to prevent or lessen the intensity of manic episodes.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking lithium and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • extreme thirst, urinating more or less than usual;
  • weakness, fever, feeling restless or confused, eye pain and vision problems;
  • restless muscle movements in your eyes, tongue, jaw, or neck;
  • pain, cold feeling, or discoloration in your fingers or toes;
  • feeling light-headed, fainting, slow heart rate;
  • hallucinations, seizure (blackout or convulsions);
  • fever with muscle stiffness, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats; or
  • early signs of lithium toxicity, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, muscle weakness, tremor, lack of coordination, blurred vision, or ringing in your ears.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild tremor of the hands;
  • weakness, lack of coordination;
  • mild nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain or upset;
  • thinning or drying of the hair; or
  • itching skin.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effects.


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