Lithium - Keeping Yourself Safe
The first thing you need to be aware of when taking lithium is that you need to drink plenty of fluids (preferably without sugar or caffeine). If you don't make sure you're flushing your system properly, lithium can build up, possibly leading to toxicity. (See Monitoring Lithium Levels - Why It's Essential.)
It's also important to get enough salt in your diet. Without this, lithium can also build up in your system.
There are a lot of medications that can cause serious problems when taken with lithium. Some of these are:
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Cymbalta (duloxetine)
- Effexor and Effexor XR (venlafaxine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Luvox (fluvoxamine)
- Paxil and Paxil CR(paroxetine)
- Prozac and Serafem (fluoxetine)
- Wellbutrin and Zyban (bupropion)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
And a host of others. Advil, Motrin, Aleve and other over-the-counter medicines containing ibuprofen or naproxen can also interact badly with lithium. Bottom line: if you're going to take lithium, tell your doctor (and pharmacist, if possible) about every other prescription drug, over-the-counter medication, and dietary supplement you are taking, and don't take something new without checking with your doctor and/or pharmacist.
Heart disease or kidney disease increase your risk of lithium toxicity.
Watch for increased urination or dehydration and inform your doctor if either one occurs, as these can increase the risk of toxicity.
Lithium is not the best drug of choice during pregnancy and should not be used while breast feeding. Ask your doctor if it's possible to stop lithium therapy temporarily or switch to another medication if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
This is not a complete list of warnings regarding lithium. Read the patient information carefully and consult with your doctor about all your other health conditions, changes in your health, and all other prescription and non-prescription drugs you take.
If you notice any unusual physical symptoms while taking lithium, contact your doctor.