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Lithium (Li), Serum

Serum lithium measurement is used to monitor drug levels in the body during treatment, to monitor patient compliance with treatment, and to evaluate any drug toxicity.

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Lithium (Li) is a metal component used as a mood stabilizer mainly in the treatment of bipolar disorder (manic depression) and also used in the treatment of migraine and other types of headaches. Lithium is absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract, has a half-life of 17-36 hours, and is excreted in the urine. Lithium alters the transport of sodium to nerve and muscle cells, which helps stabilize the mood. The most common side effect of lithium intake is the increase in thyroid hormone (TSH).

Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
  • Increase: Lithium overdose, sodium restriction. Medications: ACE inhibitors, fluoxetine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, thiazide diuretics. In addition, the concomitant administration of medications that increase the risk of lithium toxicity: Methyltopa, metronidazole, phenytoin.
  • Decrease: - Medications: Sodium Chloride. Herbal or natural remedies include psyllium (Plantago psyllium). In addition, acetazolamide, aminophylline, caffeine, sodium bicarbonate, and theophylline may increase lithium excretion.
Symptoms of Toxic Levels of Lithium
  • At levels of 1.5 to 2.5 mmol/L: Ataxia, tremor, diarrhea, muscle weakness, sedation, vomiting.
  • At levels of 2.5 to 4.0 mmol/L: Chorea, confusion, convulsions, decreased consciousness, increased tendon reflexes, muscle hypertension, somnolence, lethargy, T-wave leveling, renal toxicity accompanied by hypernatremia or hyponatremia.
  • At levels greater than 4.0 mmol/L: Coma, death.



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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