Lithium Warnings and Precautions
Understanding lithium warnings and precautions before taking the drug can help ensure a safe treatment process. For example, you may be at high risk for toxicity if you have kidney or heart disease, dehydration, or low sodium levels. Lithium warnings and precautions also extend to those who are allergic to any components used to make the medication and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Lithium: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking lithium (Eskalith®, Eskalith CR®, Lithobid®) if you have:
- Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
- Heart disease
- Brugada syndrome (or a family history of Brugada syndrome)
- Unexplained fainting episodes
- A family history of sudden, unexplained death before the age of 45
- Low sodium levels in your blood (hyponatremia)
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Lithium Warnings and PrecautionsWarnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking lithium include the following:
- If you have kidney disease, heart disease, dehydration, or low sodium levels in your blood, you may be at high risk for lithium toxicity. If you have these problems, your healthcare provider may choose to recommend an alternative to lithium. If your healthcare provider recommends that you take lithium, you may need to be monitored more closely.
- Lithium can cause you to urinate more frequently, which can lead to dehydration. This can increase your risk of toxicity. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice increased urination or dehydration while taking lithium.
- While taking lithium, you will need frequent blood tests, including tests to measure the level of lithium in your blood and kidney function tests.
- It is important for everyone taking the drug to be aware of the signs of lithium toxicity.
- There have been reports possibly linking lithium to unmasking of Brugada syndrome. This means that lithium may make the condition apparent in people who unknowingly already have it. Brugada syndrome is a condition involving heart rhythm changes; it increases the risk of sudden death. A consultation with a cardiologist is a good idea for people suspected of having Brugada syndrome, who have a family history of Brugada syndrome, or who have a family history of sudden unexplained death before the age of 45.
- Lithium is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for use while pregnant. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using the drug during pregnancy (see Lithium and Pregnancy).
- Lithium passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to beginning treatment (see Lithium and Breastfeeding).
- Lithium can interact with certain medications (see Lithium Drug Interactions).