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Lithium Toxicity


Lithium toxicity happens when the amount of lithium in your blood is too high. Lithium is a medicine that is used to treat depression and bipolar disorder. Toxicity can occur if you take a large dose of lithium at one time. Toxicity can also be caused by taking a slightly higher dose of lithium over time. It can also occur if you are dehydrated, or you take other medicines that cause lithium to build up in your blood. A decreased intake of sodium (salt) can also lead to lithium toxicity.


Call 911 or have someone else call for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You cannot be awakened.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are confused.
  • You are having trouble staying awake.
  • You have signs of dehydration such as increased thirst, dark yellow urine, urinating little or not at all, or dry eyes or mouth.
  • You have severe muscle spasms.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
  • You are shaky.
  • Your muscles feel weak.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

How to safely take lithium:

  • Take this medicine exactly as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you miss a dose or you have any questions about how to take lithium.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Dehydration can increase your risk of lithium toxicity.
  • Do not decrease the amount of salt you eat without talking to your healthcare provider. A decreased salt intake can increase your risk of lithium toxicity.
  • Go to all your follow-up appointments. Your healthcare provider will need to monitor you closely while you are taking lithium. You will need regular blood tests.

What to do if you think you or someone you know took too much lithium:

Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.