Could Long-term Lithium Use be Causing This?
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Q:  Could Long-term Lithium Use be Causing This?


Dr. Phelps,

My father (77 years old) has been on lithium (for manic depression) for over 30 years.  Recently he has exhibitied sytmptoms of tremors, drooling, fatigue and memory loss.  At first, we were concerned that it could be the onset of Parkinsons, but now his physicians have expressed concerns of his long term lithium use. My father refuses to give up the lithium.  Could long term lithium usage be causing these problems? Are there alternatives? 

Thanks!
Pam

 

Dear Pam -- 
A friend of mine says "medications are guilty until proven innocent", so I wouldn't say "no, that's not it"; and besides, you have some doc's who are right on top of the story who think lithium might be the culprit.  I can say: tremor, yes; fatigue, yes; but drooling and memory loss, I would be less likely to attribute to lithium if these had not been apparent over the years.  You've probably already pursued this:   a trial of lowering the dose just slightly, perhaps he'd agree to that, as a means of determining whether there's some validity to the concerns?  

Dr. Phelps


Published September, 2003 

 

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