Lithium Serum Test
The lithium test can be ordered to measure and monitor the amount of lithium in the blood in order to determine whether drug concentrations are in the therapeutic range. This test can be ordered every few days when a patient first begins taking lithium to help adjust the dose to the desired blood level. The test may be ordered at regular intervals or as needed to monitor blood concentrations. One or more lithium tests may be ordered if a patient starts taking additional medications (to judge their effect, if any, on lithium levels) and may be ordered if the doctor suspects toxicity. Lithium is a drug that is used to treat bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that is characterized by cycles of depression and mania. These cycles may be as short as a few days or weeks or may be months or years long. During a depressive episode, those affected may feel sad, hopeless, worthless, and lose interest in daily activities. They may be fatigued but have trouble sleeping, experience weight loss or gain, have difficulty concentrating, and have thoughts of suicide. During a manic episode, those affected may be euphoric, irritable, have high energy and grandiose ideas, use poor judgment, and participate in risky behaviors. Many times affected patients will have mixed episodes with aspects of both mania and depression.
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