Lithium is the lightest metal. It is present in all organs and tissues, although the highest quantities can be found in the brain and kidneys. The primary food sources are grains and vegetables. Lithium is evenly distributed throughout body water, with no real difference between intracellular and extracellular levels. Lithium can interact with other drugs, enzymes, hormones, vitamins, and nutrients to influence physiological functions. Lithium affects dopamine, monoamine oxidanse (MOA) and serotonin activity. Lithium also produces neutrophilia and decreases lymphocytes. Lithium has the ability to effectively change many substance levels found in the body. Lithium can be found as lithium carbonate and lithium citrate.
Lithium can interact with a few different drugs in a negative manner that will increase the risk of serotonergic and neurotoxicity side effects; these drugs are anticonvulsants, antidepressants, dextromethorphan, meperidine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), pentazocine, and tramadol. When lithium is combined with drugs such as ace inhibitors (ACEIs), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and thiazide diuretics, it may increase lithium levels whereas calcium channel blockers, and phenothiazine may decrease lithium levels.
Lithium may cause side effects that include nausea, diarrhea, vertigo, muscle fatigue, lethargy, fatigue, and haziness. These symptoms will subside with the discontinued use of lithium. Prolong use may bring weight gain, edema, acne, psoriasis, rashes, hypothyroidism, goiter, and mild cognitive/memory impairment. There are symptoms that may identify lithium toxicity: diarrhea, weakness, anorexia, muscle weakness, lethargy, muscle irritability, dysarthria, tinnitus, impaired vision, tremors, dehydration, drowsiness, and circulatory failure.
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