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Bipolar patients & lithium - a long, sometimes toxic relationship

Bipolar patients & lithium have been associated with each other since the 19th century. Nowadays, doctors prescribe lithium mainly to treat bipolar disorder, a mood disorder in which people experience bouts of depression contrasted with periods of extreme euphoria. But it wasn't always this way.

Starting in the 1870s, doctors have prescribed lithium to treat a wide variety of ailments, from depression and gout to cluster headaches. Lithium was also used in the past to treat neutropenia, a condition in which a person has an abnormally low amount of white blood cells.

A closer look at the history of lithium

In 1949, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of lithium because of fatalities. Around this time, scientists discovered that lithium could be used to effectively treat mania in people suffering from bipolar disorder. As a result, the government allowed the drug to be prescribed again starting in 1970.

Nowadays, lithium serves as one of the most common ways to treat bipolar disorder. Scientists have found that "lithium is most efficient long-term therapy for treatment and prevention of bipolar affective disorders," according to Lewis R. Goldfrank's medical resource book "Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies"

What you should know about lithium side effects

But the risks of taking lithium remain real. Lithium overdose injuries still occur and can be extremely serious. Lithium overdoses regularly result in lithium poisoning or lithium toxicity. There are a wide variety of symptoms of lithium poisoning. Relatively mild side effects include tremors, seizures, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In more severe instances, lithium toxicity can produce permanent kidney damage requiring dialysis, severe dehydration or even put patients into a coma. In the most extreme cases, dangerous lithium levels can result in death.

Our firm may be able to assist with a lithium toxicity problem

Are you dealing with a lithium toxicity problem? Not sure what to do? We can help. At Israel & Gerity, PLLC, we have years of experience dealing with complicated lithium toxicity cases. Attorney Kyle A. Israel is one of the nation's leading lithium toxicity attorneys. Contact us and discover what we can do for you. An experienced Arizona lithium toxicity lawyer at our firm can sort through all details and help you craft a rock-solid case designed to get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.

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