Generic Name: Lithium carbonate Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Uses

What is lithium carbonate used for?

Lithium carbonate is used to treat manic-depressive disorder. It works to stabilize the mood and reduce extremes in behavior by restoring the balance of certain natural substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain.

This medication may decrease the frequency of manic episodes occur and their symptoms including exaggerated feelings of well-being, feelings that others wish to harm you, irritability, anxiousness, rapid/loud speech, and aggressive/hostile behaviors.

Also, this medication may be used to prevent certain type of headache.

How should I take lithium carbonate?

Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually 2-3 times daily.

Take lithium with or immediately after meals to lessen stomach upset. Do not crush or chew this medication. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.

Drink 8 to 12 glasses (240 milliliters each) of water or other fluid each day, and eat a healthy diet with normal amounts of salt (sodium) as directed by your doctor or dietician while taking this medication. Large changes in the amount of salt in your diet may change your lithium blood levels. Do not change the amount of salt in your diet unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day. The dosage is based on your medical condition, lithium blood levels, and response to treatment. This medication works best if the amount of the drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals.

How do I store lithium carbonate?

Lithium carbonate is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store lithium carbonate in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of lithium carbonate that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush lithium carbonate down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using lithium carbonate?

Before taking lithium, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies.

Lithium treatment may rarely reveal an existing condition that affects the heart rhythm (Brugada syndrome). Brugada syndrome is an inherited, life-threatening heart problem that some people may have without knowing it. It can cause a serious (possibly fatal) abnormal heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath) that need medical attention right away. Brugada syndrome may cause death suddenly.

This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcohol beverages.

If heavy sweating or severe diarrhea occurs, check with your doctor right away how to best continue taking lithium. Take care in hot weather or during activities that cause you to sweat heavily such as during hot baths, saunas, or exercise.

This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. However, since untreated mental/mood problems (such as bipolar disorder) can harm a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, do not stop taking this medication unless directed by your doctor. Instead, ask your doctor if a different medication would be right for you.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category D, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from lithium carbonate?

When using this drug, some side effects may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Weight gain
  • Mildly shaking hands (fine tremor)

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Unsteady walk
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe hand trembling (coarse tremor)
  • Vision changes (such as growing blind spot, vision loss)
  • Joint swelling/pain
  • Pain/discoloration of finger/toes
  • Cold hands/feet
  • Severe dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Slow/fast/irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with lithium carbonate?

Lithium carbonate may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with lithium carbonate?

Lithium carbonate may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with lithium carbonate?

Lithium carbonate may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

These health conditions may include:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Urinary problems
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Seizures
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Leukemia
  • Severe dehydration
  • High fever
  • Skin disorder

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using lithium carbonate.

What is the dose of lithium carbonate for an adult?

Acute control

The usual dose is 1800 mg/day.

Extended release formulation is 900 mg orally in the morning and at nighttime.

Regular release formulation is 600 mg orally 3 times a day, in the morning, afternoon, and nighttime.

Long-term control:

The maintenance dose is 900 to 1200 mg/day.

Extended release formulation is 600 mg orally in the morning and at nighttime.

Regular release formulation is 300 mg orally 3 to 4 times a day.

What is the dose of lithium carbonate for a child?

Acute control

The usual dose is 1800 mg/day.

Extended release formulation is 900 mg orally in the morning and at nighttime.

Regular release formulation is 600 mg orally 3 times a day, in the morning, afternoon, and nighttime.

Long-term control:

The maintenance dose is 900 to 1200 mg/day.

Extended release formulation is 600 mg orally in the morning and at nighttime.

Regular release formulation is 300 mg orally 3 to 4 times a day.

How is lithium carbonate available?

Lithium carbonate is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Capsule 200mg, 300mg, 400mg
  • Slow Release Tablet 300mg, 450mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of lithium carbonate, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: March 25, 2017 | Last Modified: March 25, 2017

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