lithium carbonate

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 (Li) [lith´e-um]
a chemical element, atomic number 3, atomic weight 6.939. (See Appendix 6.)
lithium carbonate a psychotropic drug used to treat acute manic attacks in bipolar disorder and, when given on a maintenance basis, to prevent the recurrence of manic-depressive episodes. The desired serum levels are in the range 0.5–1.5 mEq/L. Life-threatening central nervous system effects and kidney damage occur at levels above 3.0 mEq/L. It is very important that the levels be carefully controlled. Lithium should not be given to patients with severe renal or cardiovascular disease or taken with diuretics because the potential for toxicity is very high. It is suspected of causing birth defects and should not be used during pregnancy.
lithium citrate the citrate salt of lithium, having the same actions and uses as the carbonate salt.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

lithium carbonate

Apo-Lithium Camcolit (UK), Apo-Lithium Carbonate (CA), Carbolith (CA), Duralith (CA), Euro-Lithium (CA), Liskonum (UK), Lithane, Lithobid, Lithonate (UK), PHL-Lithium Carbonate (CA), PMS-Lithium Carbonate (CA), Priadel (UK)

lithium citrate

PMS-Lithium Citrate (CA)

Pharmacologic class: Miscellaneous CNS drug

Therapeutic class: Antimanic drug

Pregnancy risk category D

FDA Box Warning

• Lithium toxicity is closely related to lithium blood level and can occur at doses close to therapeutic levels. Before starting therapy, ensure that resources for prompt, accurate blood lithium testing are available.


Unknown. Thought to disrupt sodium exchange and transport in nerves and muscles and control reuptake of neurotransmitters.


Capsules: 150 mg, 300 mg, 600 mg

Syrup (citrate): 300 mg (8 mEq lithium)/5 ml

Tablets: 300 mg

Tablets (extended-release): 300 mg, 450 mg

Tablets (slow-release): 300 mg

Indications and dosages

Manic episodes of bipolar disorder

Adults and children ages 12 and older: 900 to 1,800 mg P.O. daily in divided doses (for example, 300 to 600 mg t.i.d. or 450 to 900 mg b.i.d. of controlled- or slow-release form) to achieve blood level of 1 to 1.5 mEq/L; measure blood level twice weekly until patient stabilizes. Maintenance dosage is 900 to 1,200 mg/day in divided doses (forexample, 300 to 400 mg t.i.d. or 450 to 600 mg b.i.d. of controlled- or slow-release form) to maintain blood level of 0.6 to 1.2 mEq/L. Monitor blood level at least q 2 months.

Dosage adjustment

• Impaired renal function

• Elderly patients

Off-label uses

• Acute manic episodes in children

• Corticosteroid-induced psychosis

• Neutropenia secondary to antineoplastic therapy

• Tardive dyskinesia

• Alcoholism

• Bulimia




Use cautiously in:

• hepatic or thyroid disease, severe cardiovascular or renal disease, diabetes mellitus, seizure disorders, systemic infections, brain trauma, organic brain syndrome, urinary retention, severe sodium depletion

• elderly patients

• pregnant or breastfeeding patients

• children (safety not established).


Be aware that dosages are individualized according to lithium blood level and response.

• Give with food or milk to minimize GI upset.

• Make sure patient swallows slow-release tablet whole without chewing or crushing.

• When switching patient from immediate-release to controlled- or slow-release form, give same total daily dosage.

Adverse reactions

CNS: dizziness, drowsiness, headache, tremor, tics, EEG changes, ataxia, choreoathetotic movements, abnormal tongue movements, extrapyramidal reactions, cogwheel rigidity, blackout spells, psychomotor retardation, slow mental functioning, slurred speech, startled response, restlessness, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, poor memory, worsening of organic brain syndrome, stupor, coma, epileptiform seizures

CV: bradycardia, ECG changes, hypotension, sinus node dysfunction with severe bradycardia and syncope, arrhythmias, peripheral circulatory collapse

EENT: blurred vision, nystagmus, tinnitus

GI: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fecal incontinence, gastritis, flatulence, dyspepsia, anorexia, increased salivation, salivary gland swelling, dry mouth

GU: urinary incontinence, glycosuria, albuminuria, erectile or other sexual dysfunction, polyuria or other signs of nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, oliguria

Hematologic: leukocytosis

Metabolic: hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, goiter, hyperglycemia, hypercalcemia, hyponatremia, hyperparathyroidism

Musculoskeletal: swollen or painful joints, muscle weakness, muscle fasciculations and twitching, clonic arm or leg movements, hypertonicity, hyperactive deep tendon reflexes, polyarthralgia

Skin: dry thin hair, alopecia, diminished or absent skin sensations, chronic folliculitis, eczema with dry skin, new onset or exacerbation of psoriasis, pruritus (with or without rash), cutaneous ulcers, angioedema

Other: altered, metallic, or salty taste; dental caries; weight gain; excessive thirst; polydipsia; fever; edema of lips, ankles, and wrists


Drug-drug. Acetazolamide, alkalinizing agents (such as sodium bicarbonate), urea, verapamil, xanthines: decreased lithium blood level

Calcium channel blockers, carbamazepine, haloperidol, methyldopa: increased risk of neurotoxicity

Diuretics: increased sodium loss, increased risk of lithium toxicity

Fluoxetine, loop diuretics, metronidazole, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: increased risk of lithium toxicity

Iodide salts: synergistic effects, increased risk of hypothyroidism

Neuromuscular blockers: prolonged neuromuscular blockade, severe respiratory depression

Phenothiazines: decreased phenothiazine blood level or increased lithium blood level, greater risk of neurotoxicity

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: increased risk of tremor, confusion, dizziness, agitation, and diarrhea

Sympathomimetics: decreased pressor sensitivity

Tricyclic antidepressants: increased antidepressant effects

Drug-diagnostic tests. Albumin, creatinine, sodium, thyroxine, triiodothyronine: decreased levels

Calcium, glucose,131I uptake, white blood cells (WBCs): increased levels

Drug-food. Caffeine-containing foods and beverages: decreased lithium blood level and efficacy

Drug-herbs. Caffeine-containing herbs (cola nut, guarana, yerba maté): decreased lithium blood level and efficacy

Patient monitoring

• Obtain baseline ECG and electrolyte levels before and periodically during therapy.

• Assess neurologic and psychiatric status. Institute safety measures as needed to prevent injury.

• Monitor lithium blood level, WBC count, and thyroid and kidney function tests.

• Assess cardiovascular status regularly.

• Monitor fluid intake and output. Watch for edema and weight gain.

Patient teaching

• Advise patient to take with food or milk to minimize GI upset.

• Instruct patient to swallow slow-release tablet whole without chewing or crushing.

• Tell patient that beneficial effects may take 1 to 3 weeks to appear.

• Advise patient to limit foods and beverages containing caffeine, because they may interfere with drug action.

• Tell patient to maintain adequate fluid intake.

• Explain that drug may cause adverse CNS effects. Advise patient to avoid activities requiring mental alertness until effects are known.

Emphasize importance of having regular blood tests, to help detect and prevent serious adverse reactions.

• Instruct patient to carry appropriate medical identification at all times.

• As appropriate, review all other significant and life-threatening adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs, tests, foods, and herbs mentioned above.

McGraw-Hill Nurse's Drug Handbook, 7th Ed. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

lith·i·um car·bon·ate

an agent used in the treatment and prophylaxis of depressive, hypomanic, and manic phases of bipolar affective disorders.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

lithium carbonate

A white granular powder, Li2CO3, used as a drug primarily to treat bipolar disorder and in the manufacture of glass and ceramics.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

lithium carbonate

LiCO3 Pharmacology An alkali used to treat bipolar I disorder, which blocks neurotransmission at the 'second messenger' phosphoinositide-mediated cholinergic neurons in the hippocampus , inhibiting release and uptake of norepinephrine at nerve endings by inhibiting receptor-mediated synthesis of cAMP Neuropharmacologic effects-antimanic Blocks development of dopamine receptor supersensitivity, ↑ GABA function, ↑ acetylcholine function Antidepressant ↑ 5-HT function, ↓ β-adrenoceptor stimulation of adenylate cyclase, ↓ α2-adrenoceptor function Thymoleptic ↓ Neurotransmitter-coupled adenylate cyclase activity and cAMP formation, ↓ receptor-G protein coupling, ↓ phosphoinositide metabolism, alters kinetics of alkali cations–Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+  Side effects Hyperirritability, hyperpyrexia, stupor, coma, gastroenteritis, cardiovascular disease–eg, arrhythmia, hypotension, ↓ ST wave, T inversion, osteoporosis Teratogenesis Cardiac malformations in 10% of infants born to lithium-treated ♀ Toxicity Overdose causes death in14 of Pts Treatment K+-sparing drugs
Lithium toxicity
< 1.5 mmol/L Nausea, tremor, mild polyuria
1.5–2.5 mmol/L Diarrhea, vomiting, polyuria, coarse tremor, muscle fasciculation, ataxia, weakness, sedation
2.5–4.0 mmol/L Muscle hypertonia, choreiform movement, ↑ deep muscle reflexes, seizures, focal neurologic signs, impaired consciousness, confusion, stupor
> 4.0 mmol/L Coma, death
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

lith·i·um car·bon·ate

(lith'ē-ŭm kahr'bŏ-nāt)
Agent used to treat depressive, hypomanic, and manic phases of bipolar affective disorders.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

lith·i·um car·bon·ate

(lithē-ŭm kahrbŏ-nāt)
Agent used to treat depressive, hypomanic, and manic phases of bipolar affective disorders.
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012