Eskalith (Lithium Carbonate)
Lithium Carbonate Dosage and Side Effects
This medication is used to treat manic-depressive disorder (bipolar disorder). It works to stabilize the mood and reduce extremes in behavior by restoring the balance of certain natural substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain.
Some of the benefits of continued use of this medication include decreasing how often manic episodes occur and decreasing the symptoms of manic episodes such as exaggerated feelings of well-being, feelings that others wish to harm you, irritability, anxiousness, rapid/loud speech, and aggressive/hostile behaviors.
Proper Use of this medication
There are different brands of this medication available. They may not have the same effects. Do not change brands without asking your doctor or pharmacist.
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. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split the tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
Drink 8 to 12 glasses (8 ounces or 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.
This medication must be taken exactly as prescribed. It is important to continue taking lithium even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens. It may take 1 to 3 weeks to notice an improvement in your condition.
Drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, weight gain, and mildly shaking hands (fine tremor) may occur. These should go away as your body adjusts to the medication. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
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.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: 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.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Warnings and Precautions
Before taking lithium, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: heart disease, kidney disease, urinary problems (such as difficulty urinating), underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), seizures, Parkinson's disease, leukemia, severe dehydration (severe loss of body water), any infection with high fever, a certain skin disorder (psoriasis).
Lithium treatment may rarely reveal an existing condition that affects the heartrhythm (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. Before starting lithium treatment, tell your doctor if you have any of the following risk factors: Brugada syndrome, unexplained fainting, family history of certain heart problems (Brugada syndrome, sudden unexplained death before 45 years old).
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 alcoholic 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.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
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. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor right away.
Lithium passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Therefore, breast-feeding is not recommended while using this drug. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Interactions with this medication
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Other medications can affect the removal of lithium from your body, which may affect how lithium works. Examples include ACE inhibitors (such as captopril, enalapril), ARBs (such as losartan, valsartan), NSAIDs (such as celecoxib, ibuprofen), "water pills" (diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide), other drugs for mental/mood conditions (such as chlorpromazine, haloperidol, thiothixene), among others. Your doctor may need to adjust your dose of lithium if you are on these medications.
Eat a normal diet with an average amount of sodium. Consult your doctor or dietician for more details.
Other related products
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.