Author: James Anderson

Alcohol And Seizures: Can Drinking Cause Epilepsy Or Convulsions?

alcohol and seizures

This article looks at the connection between alcohol, seizures, and epilepsy, as well as treatment options and support. Symptoms of focal seizures may be confused with other conditions of the brain or nervous system. When the person you love has recovered from the seizure, explain how treatment works. Outline how counseling combined with medications can ease chemical imbalances caused by addiction.

This research suggests that repeated alcohol withdrawal seizures may make the brain more excitable. Thus, people who have experienced seizures provoked by binge drinking may begin to experience unprovoked epilepsy seizures regardless of alcohol use. One of the most commonly asked questions on this topic is ‘why does alcohol withdrawal cause seizures?

Flashing lights, especially repetitive on and off or patterns, may trigger a seizure. However, someone who is having an alcohol withdrawal seizure may not need any trigger other than stopping alcohol use. If someone has a seizure from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you should move things out of the way that they could accidentally hurt themselves with during the seizure. You should also call 911 and get emergency medical help as soon as possible, even if the seizure has stopped.

And a doctor may use brain-imaging techniques to monitor treatment over time. Alcohol-related neurologic disease refers to a range of conditions caused by alcohol intake that affect the nerves and nervous system. Neurologic disorders can include fetal alcohol syndrome, dementia, and alcoholic neuropathy. For people with epilepsy, alcohol may interfere with anti-seizure medications and increase the risk of seizures.

  1. If you research a medication and these symptoms show up, it’s likely that AED will lower your tolerance for alcohol, too.
  2. In fact, 2 out of 3 cohort studies suggested that alcohol intake reduces the risk of epilepsy.
  3. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.
  4. The timeframe will be different for everyone, but seizures will normally start within the first 72 hours.

Seizure types vary by where they begin in the brain and how far they spread. A seizure that lasts longer than five minutes is a medical emergency. More than a third of people with AUD that began more than a year ago are now in full recovery.[8] With treatment, people can develop new habits and stop experiencing alcohol-related seizures. Once clarity is achieved, assessment of the risk of alcohol consumption in different clinical situations will be an effective step for the prevention of epilepsy in the general population. The answer to whether alcohol can trigger seizures is more complex than you might think. Clearly, people diagnosed with epilepsy have different answers to the question, “Does alcohol affect epilepsy?

Heavy, long-term alcohol use and withdrawal from alcohol can lead to seizures. Alcohol can also trigger seizures if you have epilepsy and often interacts poorly with anti-seizure medications. Long-term alcohol misuse can increase the risk of developing epilepsy. Over 50% of alcohol withdrawal seizures may relate to additional risk factors, such as preexisting epilepsy, structural brain lesions, or drug use. Binge drinking is drinking too much at once or over long periods of time.

Helping a Person With Alcohol Seizures

Alcohol use can also trigger seizures in people with epilepsy if withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. Epilepsy can cause seizures to occur with more mild levels of alcohol withdrawal than would occur in most people. Light, infrequent drinking isn’t linked to seizures, but people who are regular or heavy alcohol users have an increased risk of alcoholic tremors or seizure activity. Though alcohol can trigger seizures, they are more often linked to withdrawal from alcohol if your body has developed a tolerance for it and dependency on it. For those that may already be suffering from the emotional effects of alcohol, it will be important to know more about the alcoholic seizures. Seizures are what happens when there is a problem in the brain resulting in excess of electrical activity.

alcohol and seizures

The effect of alcohol on people with epilepsy will vary from person to person, even on the same medication. People with epilepsy who drink alcohol may also be less likely to adhere to their medication schedule. If you are especially sensitive to either your AED or alcohol, it may be best to avoid drinking while taking that particular medication. Most of these antiepileptic medications also have side effects that mimic those of alcohol. They may slow down central nervous system responses, make a person sleepy, or cause parts of the brain to work differently.

This is because the neurons are not able to fire as rapidly once the drink is introduced to the system. In larger doses though, there is an increased risk that there will be a chemical imbalance which leads to an alcohol seizure. In one small study from 2018, people with epilepsy who reported seizures after drinking had consumed seven or more standard-sized drinks before their seizures occurred. Nearly all of the seizures occurred within 12 hours after they stopped drinking.

Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

People with epilepsy may have a higher risk of withdrawal seizures than others. When seizures do happen as a result of alcohol, they occur within six to 72 hours after drinking. They do not generally happen while a person is drinking, or even within a few hours of stopping. For this reason, if you do choose to drink, it’s important that you pay attention to your seizure activity for up to three days afterward.

Furthermore, seizures seemed particularly likely if the participants did not regularly drink that much alcohol. Many people diagnosed with epilepsy have been told that alcohol and epilepsy should never mix because alcohol can trigger seizures. Many doctors and pharmacists recommend total abstinence from drinking, if possible. Alcohol acts by stimulating receptors in your brain that cause brain activity to be suppressed. There are some specific considerations that may affect your risk of seizures when using alcohol. Another one of the big reasons people with epilepsy are warned not to consume alcohol is that many of the anti-seizure and anti-epileptic drugs that treat epilepsy do not mix well with alcohol.

The brain is always slightly sedated, and the body is always trying to return to normal. Ultimately, everyone’s brain is different and responds to alcohol in different ways. You may choose to try a drink or two of alcohol in a controlled environment to find out if it triggers seizures, or you may decide drinking is not worth the risk of having a seizure at all. It’s important to discuss drinking with your doctor, especially as it relates to any medication you may be taking. There are many potential triggers for someone who is prone to seizures.

Binge Drinking Seizures

Alcohol has the potential to enhance some side effects of anti-seizure medications, including drowsiness and dizziness. Alcohol can also impact how certain medications are absorbed by the body. Do not mix anti-seizure medication and alcohol without first speaking to a physician.

Keto Diet and Epilepsy: Medication Interactions, Seizure Prevention, and More

If people withdraw from alcohol after heavy use, it is important to do so with medical supervision. People with alcohol withdrawal seizures may also experience tremors, hallucinations, muscle spasms, and a rapid heart rate. Over half of those with alcohol withdrawal seizures may have repeat seizures, and up to 5% of cases may lead to status epilepticus. It is also possible to experience seizures as a result of alcohol withdrawal. This can happen after someone who has misused alcohol for a long time stops consuming it. It is possible for chronic alcohol consumption to cause seizures in people without a history of seizures.