Lithium: Drug Interactions & Overdose

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over numerous examples of drugs lithium might interact with and what the interaction might cause. It also goes over the signs and symptoms of acute and chronic lithium overdose.

Lithium and Bipolar Disorder

What's found in your phone that can treat a mental health disorder? It's lithium, a type of metal used in everything from rechargeable batteries found in electronics to medication for bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where a person alternates between periods of profound lows (depression) and emotional highs (mania).

Why don't we go over lithium's various drug interactions as well as overdose information in this lesson?

Drug Interactions

Let's start with drug interactions first. Lithium has scores of important drug interactions so we'll only be able to explore a few of them in this lesson.

First, let's meet Quinn, no not the medicine woman. Quinn takes a medication called quinidine. Quinidine is used to treat arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms. Ironically enough, if Quinn were to use quinidine with lithium, she'd be at increased risk of having a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia.

Dolly takes dolasetron. Dolly is a cancer patient who is on chemotherapy. As a result, she experiences nausea and vomiting. She is given dolasetron to try and prevent the nausea and vomiting. But if she takes lithium at the same time, she's at increased risk of serotonin syndrome. In short, this condition can leads to shaking, hallucinations, an increased heart rate, incoordination, and as ironically as with Quinn, nausea and vomiting.

Next up is Hal. Hal takes haloperidol to control Tourette's syndrome. The problem is that taking lithium with haloperidol can lead to an abnormal heart rhythm. Hal may experience difficulty breathing confusion, dizziness, fainting and tremors as well in this instance.

Lacy take Lasix, the famous name for a 'water-pill' known as furosemide. When used together with lithium, lithium's effects upon the body might be increased. This could lead to diarrhea, increased urination, drowsiness, and thirstiness.

Finally, we'll talk to Connie. Connie takes ConZip, the brand name for a pain reliever known as tramadol. Using tramadol with lithium might increase the risk of Connie having a seizure. This is especially true if she is elderly, has a history of seizures or is withdrawing from alcohol or drug abuse.

Again, these aren't all the possible drug interactions between lithium and other medications, simply examples of the wide breadth of possible issues such interactions might cause.

Overdose

Lithium, even without any drug interactions, can be toxic if your overdose on the medication. If you take way too much at once, you're at risk of an acute lithium toxicity. If you take just a bit too much over a long period of time, you're at risk of chronic lithium toxicity.

Acute lithium toxicity can cause:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support