Prevent Kidney Disease
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Lithium is a common medicine used to help calm mood for treating people with mental disorders. Since such disorders need lifelong treatment, long-term use of lithium may be harmful to organs, such as the kidneys.
Lithium may cause problems with kidney health. Kidney damage due to lithium may include acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term) kidney disease and kidney cysts. The amount of kidney damage depends on how long you have been taking lithium. It is possible to reverse kidney damage caused by lithium early in treatment, but the damage may become permanent over time.
The most common problem from taking lithium is a form of diabetes due to kidney damage called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. This type of diabetes is different than diabetes mellitus caused by high blood sugar.
In nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, the kidneys cannot respond to anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), a chemical messenger that controls fluid balance. This results in greater than normal urine out-put and excessive thirst. It can be hard to treat nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.
When the kidneys are not able to control fluid balance you may notice:
Too much fluid loss can cause electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge. Examples of electrolytes are sodium and potassium. Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include:
If you take lithium, ask your healthcare provider about the following ways to prevent kidney damage from lithium:
If you would like more information, please contact us.
©2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.