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Brand & Generic Names

Carbolith Lithane
Cibalith-S Lithizine
Duralith Lithobid
Eskalith Lithonate
Eskalith CR Lithotabs

Basic Information

  • Habit forming? No
  • Prescription needed? Yes
  • Available as generic? Yes
  • Drug class: Tranquilizer


  • Normalizes mood and behavior in manic-depressive illness.
  • Treats alcohol toxicity and addiction.
  • Treats schizoid personality disorders.

Dosage & Usage Information

How to take:
Tablet or capsule--Swallow with liquid or food to lessen stomach irritation. If you can't swallow whole, crumble tablet or open capsule and take with liquid or food. Drink 2 or 3 quarts liquid per day.
Extended-release tablets--Swallow each dose whole.
Syrup--Take at mealtime. Follow with 8 oz. water.

When to take:
At the same times each day, preferably mealtime.

If you forget a dose:
Take as soon as you remember up to 2 hours late. If more than 2 hours, wait for next scheduled dose (don't double this dose).

What drug does:
May correct chemical imbalance in brain's transmission of nerve impulses that influence mood and behavior.

Time lapse before drug works:
1 to 3 weeks. May require 3 months before depressive phase of illness improves.

Don't take with:
Any other medicine without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.


Moderate overdose increases some side effects and may cause diarrhea, nausea. Large overdose may cause vomiting, muscle weakness, convulsions, stupor and coma.


  • Dial 911 (emergency) or O (operator) for an ambulance or medical help. Then give first aid immediately.
  • See EMERGENCY Information.

Possible Adverse Reactions or Side Effects


    In case of overdose, see Overdose section.


  • Dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, shakiness, tremor.
  • Dry mouth, thirst, decreased sexual ability, increased urination, anorexia.


  • Rash, stomach pain, fainting, heartbeat irregularities, shortness of breath, ear noises.
  • Swollen hands, feet; slurred speech; thyroid impairment (coldness, dry, puffy skin); muscle aches; headache; weight gain; fatigue; menstrual irregularities, acne-like eruptions.
  • Drowsiness, confusion, weakness.


  • Blurred vision, eye pain.
  • Jerking of arms and legs, worsening of psoriasis, hair loss.

Warnings & Precautions

Don't take if:

  • You are allergic to lithium or tartrazine dye.
  • You have kidney or heart disease.
  • Patient is younger than 12.

Before you start, consult your doctor:

  • About all medications you take.
  • If you plan to become pregnant within medication period.
  • If you have diabetes, low thyroid function, epilepsy or any significant medical problem.
  • If you are on a low-salt diet or drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day.
  • If you plan surgery within 2 months.

Over age 60:
Adverse reactions and side effects may be more frequent and severe than in younger persons.

Risk to unborn child outweighs drug benefits. Don't use.

Drug passes into milk. Avoid drug or discontinue nursing until you finish medicine. Consult doctor for advice on maintaining milk supply.

Infants & children:
Don't give to children younger than 12.

Prolonged use:

  • Enlarged thyroid with possible impaired function.
  • Talk to your doctor about the need for follow-up medical examinations or laboratory studies to check lithium levels, ECG*, kidney function, thyroid, complete blood counts (white blood cell count, platelet count, red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit).

Skin & sunlight:
No problems expected.

Driving, piloting or hazardous work:
Don't drive or pilot aircraft until you learn how medicine affects you. Don't work around dangerous machinery. Don't climb ladders or work in high places. Danger increases if you drink alcohol or take medicine affecting alertness and reflexes.

Don't discontinue without consulting doctor. Dose may require gradual reduction if you have taken drug for a long time. Doses of other drugs may also require adjustment.


  • Regular checkups, periodic blood tests, and tests of lithium levels and thyroid function recommended.
  • Avoid exercise in hot weather and other activities that cause heavy sweating. This contributes to lithium poisoning.
  • Some products contain tartrazine dye. Avoid, especially if allergic to aspirin.

Possible Interaction with Other Drugs

------------------------ -----------------------
Acetazolamide Decreased lithium effect.
Antihistamines* Possible excessive sedation.
Bupropion Increased risk of major seizures.
Carbamazepine Increased lithium effect.
Desmopressin Possible decreased desmopressin
Diazepam Possible hypothermia.
Diclofenac Possible increase in effect and
Didanosine Increased risk of peripheral
Diuretics* Increased lithium effect.
Dronabinol Increased effects of both drugs.
Haloperidol Increased toxicity of both drugs.
Indomethacin Increased lithium effect.
Iodide salts Increased lithium effects on
thyroid function.
Ketoprofen May increase lithium in blood.
Methyldopa Increased lithium effect.
Molindone Brain changes.
Muscle relaxants, Increased skeletal muscle relaxation.
Nicardipine Possible decreased lithium effect.
Nimodipine Possible decreased lithium effect.
Non-steroidal Increased lithium toxicity.
Oxyphenbutazone Increased lithium effect.
Phenothiazines* Decreased lithium effect.
Phenylbutazone Increased lithium effect.
Phenytoin Increased lithium effect.
Potassium iodide Increased potassium iodide effect.
Sodium bicarbonate Decreased lithium effect.
Sumatriptan Adverse effects unknown. Avoid.
Tetracyclines* Increased lithium effect.
Theophylline Decreased lithium effect.
Tiopronin Increased risk of toxicity to
Verapamil Decreased lithium effect.

Possible Interaction with Other Substances

--------------- ---------------
Alcohol: Possible lithium poisoning.
Caffeine drinks. Decreased lithium effect.
Cocaine: Possible psychosis.
Salt. High intake could decrease lithium
effect. Low intake could increase
lithium effect. Don't restrict
Marijuana: Increased tremor and possible
Tobacco: None expected.

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