Lithium test

lithium test

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Lithium?

Lithium is an influencing factor of the flow of sodium through the nerves and the muscle cells in the body. Lithium is used for the treatment of the disorders caused by the irregularity of the sodium content. It is used to treat manic episodes of bipolar disorder(manic depression). Lithium belongs to the class of medications called antimanic agents. Lithium is used as an antipsychotic drug.

How prevalent is Bipolar disorder in India?

Age range Prevalence
8-12 years 9.4%
0-16 years 12.5%
12-16 years  1.81%

What is Lithium Test?

Lithium Test measures and monitors the lithium levels in the blood. It diagnoses if the concentration of the lithium is adequate in the blood.

Who needs a lithium test?

If you are taking Lithium dosage for the treatment of a bipolar disorder or manic depression, then Lithium Test is suggested. It is used to keep regular monitoring of lithium levels in the blood to make sure it’s adequate. More than the required concentration of Lithium in the blood can lead to Lithium toxicity which adverse effects. Some of the common symptoms of lithium toxicity are:

–  Seizures.
– Drowsiness.
– Irregular heartbeat.
– Slurred speech.

Why has my doctor asked me to undergo a Lithium Test?

The lithium test is suggested by your doctor to monitor your lithium concentration in blood when you’re undergoing medications that involve lithium dosage. This test helps in determining if the concentration of lithium is lower or higher in the body. Your doctor might want to know if the medications are being effective and if you are adhering to the therapy(taking medicines regularly).

Lithium test can also be suggested by your doctor if there are any symptoms of lithium toxicity (larger than the adequate amount of lithium). The symptoms of Lithium toxicity depends on that type of toxicity. There are two types of lithium toxicity: acute toxicity and chronic toxicity.

What are the symptoms of Acute Lithium Toxicity?

In the case of acute toxicity, the common symptoms are:

– Dizziness.
– Nausea.
– Stomach pains.
– Vomiting.
– Weakness.

There are nervous symptoms that might appear in acute toxicity later after the dosage has been absorbed. The symptoms are:

Hand tremors.
– Drowsiness.
– Confusion or agitation.
– Inability to fully control your arms and legs (ataxia).
– Muscle twitches.
– Slurred speech.
– Eye movements that you can’t control (nystagmus).

In very serious cases of acute lithium toxicity there can be symptoms like:
– Seizures.
– Coma.
– Brain injury.

What are the symptoms of Chronic Lithium Toxicity?

In the case of chronic toxicity, the symptoms are more neurological than gastrointestinal. The common symptoms of chronic toxicity are:

-Slurred speech.
-Confusion or agitation.
-Increased reflexes.

In severe cases of chronic lithium toxicity, the symptoms are:
Memory problems and other cognitive impairment
-Significant movement problems
-Kidney failure

What are the preparations required for the lithium test?

– Fasting is not required.
– Take all medications as prescribed.
– Make sure that the last dosage of Lithium was taken 12 hours before the test. 

How is the Lithium test performed?

For the lithium test to be conducted, a blood sample is collected first.

– A tourniquet is wrapped around the upper arm to make the veins more prominent.

– A syringe or needle is used to draw blood by puncturing the vein.
– The blood is drawn into the tube of the syringe.
– The tourniquet is unwrapped.
– An antiseptic is applied to the spot of venipuncture to avoid any infection.
– The spot of injection of the syringe is dabbed by a cotton swab or a bandage is put to stop any further bleeding.
– The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory for the Lithium test.

Is the procedure of the Lithium test painful?

There is no pain associated with the test but there can be a few risks regarding the blood collection factor

– Some people feel light-headed and dizzy after the blood is drawn.
– It might cause Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin causing a lump or bruise).
– There might be pain associated with too many punctures for finding a vein.

What is the price of the lithium test in India?

The price of lithium test in India ranges from Rs 300 to 2500. The prices are subjected to variation depending on the city or the state the diagnostic center or the laboratory is located in.

When will I get my results?

You will get the reports within 24 hours to 36 hours.

What does my lithium test result depict?

The therapeutic range of lithium in the body should range from 0.6 – 1.2 mmol/L. Within this range, there is no chance of lithium toxicity.

Reference Range  Interpretation
Above 1.5mmol/L Potentially toxic
Above 2mmol/L Severely toxic
0.6 – 1.2 mmol/LTherapeutic range

What to do if I have lower levels of lithium?

In case, you have lower levels of lithium, you need to consult your doctor and he will suggest you the required amount of lithium needed.

What to do if I have higher levels of lithium?

If you have higher levels of lithium, don’t panic. Follow a few simple steps:

– Drink lots of water.
– Don’t take any kind of lithium dosage anymore.
– Go immediately to see your doctor.

How often do I need to take the lithium test?

You can be recommended to screen your lithium every 7 – 10 days for regular monitoring of the lithium concentration in blood. In order to carry out the proper treatment, it is necessary for your doctor to know if you have lower or higher levels of lithium in your blood.

Can I undergo the Lithium Test when I’m pregnant?

A monthly lithium screening is always recommended at the initial stage of pregnancy. After 36 weeks of pregnancy, weekly lithium screenings are recommended.

Is it safe for kids to undergo Lithium Test?

It is totally safe for a kid to undergo Lithium Test since it just involves the collection of the blood sample of the kid. There can be very minute pin-pricking pain in the spot of the venipuncture. This pain doesn’t last more than a few hours.

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