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Pharmacology/lithium bloating


hello dr. salman, i was wondering can bloating caused by lithium look like belly fat. ive been taking lithium for 20 years and ive had weight gain ever since. when i press on my belly it feels like a waterbed. how do you deal with a bloating belly and why does lithium cause bloating.

medications: lithium, abilify, triamterene, lisinopril, amlodipine
weight: 330
height: 6'
blood pressure: 121/70
i also have bipolar disorder

Lithium causes water retention because of the salt content in it. Lithium can substitute for sodium or potassium on several transport proteins that normally transport sodium or potassium, thus providing a pathway for lithium entry into cells. The pathways for transporting lithium out of cells are more limited, resulting in lithium accumulating intracellularly which leads to edema and bloating. You do have to watch your sodium intake to keep water balance. Eating things lower in sodium will help. Lithium also has a narrow therapeutic index, with therapeutic levels between 0.6 and 1.5 mEq/L. The optimal steady-state concentration of lithium for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorders is generally considered to be 0.6 to 1.2 mEq/L, with slightly elevated steady-state concentrations (0.8 to 1.5 mEq/L) indicated for the acute management of manic episodes. Because toxicity can occur at levels >1.5 mEq/L, lithium levels must be carefully monitored and lithium dosage adjusted as necessary.  


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Dr Mohd Tariq Salman


I can answer questions related to Adverse drug reactions, Rational use of medicines, especially antimicrobial agents, and scientific basis of the use of herbal drugs. I can also provide expert opinion on teaching and learning methods in pharmacology, pharmacology resources available on the internet and research methodology in biomedical sciences including clinical trials, biostatistics and screening of new drugs for pharmacological activity.


Teaching and training of undergraduate medical, dental and pharmacy students, supervision of Pharmacology residents and research in the fields of Herbal drugs, Pharmacovigilance and Drug Utilization studies.

JN Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh India and Era's Lucknow Medical College, Lucknow, India

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, JK Science, Natural Product Radiance,Hippocratic Journal of Unani Medicine,Indian Journal for the Practicing Doctor and Unimed Kulliyat.

MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)

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