Thursday, May 5, 2011

How lithium toxicity is cured?


Lithium is a mood stabilizing drug used for bipolar affective disorder. Most people with this disorder need to take this drug for longer duration of time to prevent mood problems from recurring. However, lithium is a toxic metal with very narrow margin between toxicity level and therapeutic level. Therefore, it can easily become toxic and early warning signs of toxicity must known by the patients.




Click Here to read on signs of Lithium toxicity

However, lithium also can cause side effects which are not dangerous.

Click Here to read on side effects of Lithium

How lithium toxicity is treated?

Lithium toxicity is treated according to the blood level of lithium, if the patient has >2 mmol/l and patient is clinically not very upset then it is treated with
1. Stopping the lithium therapy
2. Hydrating the patient via intravenous normal saline and increased oral water to washout lithium inside the blood
3. If the patient is not responding or the lithium level is >3mmol/l or patient is having very significant toxic features, Hemodialysis (artificial cleaning of the blood) is the treatment option.
4. After the treatment, doctor will usually look into the cause for lithium toxicity and he/she may start a mood stabilizer that is different to lithium such as sodium valproate. However, Lithium is the usual gold standard in treating and preventing bipolar affective disorder

Further reading


1.  Contraindications for Lithium treatment


2.  Mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder: Uses and side effects

3. Characteristics of the bipolar disorder

First published in
Mental health information blog





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About Dr. Manura Nanayakkara

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Dr. Manura Nanayakkara is a Medical doctor working in Sri Lanka. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine University of Colombo in 2005. In addition to his undergraduate medical degree, he holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychiatry. He completed his postgraduate degree in 2011. 

Work Experience

He started to work as a medical internist in the District general Hospital Nawalapitiya in the Kandy district (central Sri Lanka) in 2006. Following his basic training, he started to work in a Rural hospital in Akuressa (Southern part of Sri Lanka). During that period he used to treat wide variety of diseases in this rural community.

Due to his interest in the field of Psychiatry, he entered into the Diploma in Psychiatry course conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. It is the only Postgraduate medical institute in Sri Lanka.

Currently he is undergoing training in MD psychiatry program leading to specialist in the field of psychiatry.