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What are the side effects of the medicine lithium?

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Quick Answer

Mild hand tremors; weakness or lack of coordination; mild stomach upset with nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite; thin or dry hair; and itchy skin are among the most common side effects of lithium, according to Drugs.com.

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Full Answer

More serious side effects of lithium include extreme thirst with urinary changes, weakness, fever, restlessness and eye pain, notes eMedicineHealth. Feeling cold, painful discoloration of fingers and toes, fainting, lightheadedness, seizures and muscle stiffness are additional serious side effects that require the attention of a doctor.

Lithium toxicity is an uncommon but very serious side effect of the medication, cautions eMedicineHealth. Early symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness and ringing in the ears. Additional symptoms include muscle weakness, tremor and lack of coordination. Lithium should be stopped and a doctor contacted if these symptoms develop.

People with heart or kidney disease need to use lithium with caution, states Drugs.com. Those with an underactive thyroid, a serious or otherwise debilitating illness, and the presence of dehydration or low levels of blood sodium should use lithium carefully.

Lithium can impair thinking and reaction, according to Drugs.com. It can cause overheating and dehydration, especially with activity and in hot weather. The level of sodium in the diet should not change when starting this medication. Changing it can cause the amount of sodium to build, causing complications.

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