Author: James Anderson

Alcohol as a Seizure Trigger

alcohol seizures

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. For some people, drinking alcohol can mean they get less sleep or forget to take their epilepsy medicine.

Alcohol poisoning can lead to seizures, but these may not result from the alcohol intake itself. Lower blood sugar or head trauma caused by a sudden fall could be the underlying cause. Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention. Alcohol has the potential to enhance some side effects of anti-seizure medications, including drowsiness and dizziness.

alcohol seizures

Some experts link excessive alcohol consumption to the development of epilepsy. Binge drinking is drinking too much at once or over long periods of time. Alcohol usually does not trigger seizures while the person is drinking. However, “withdrawal” seizures may occur 6 to 72 hours later, after drinking has stopped. The choice about whether to drink alcohol as someone with epilepsy goes beyond, “Does alcohol cause epileptic seizures?

Alcohol-related myopathy

Below is a collection of FAQs based on what we do know about this subject. This page is to help you understand how alcohol could affect you and your epilepsy. Make your tax-deductible gift and be a part of the cutting-edge research and care that’s changing medicine.

alcohol seizures

You can work with your health care professional to balance seizure control and medicine side effects. Alcohol misuse can lead to neurological damage that can affect multiple areas of a person’s health and well-being. The best way to avoid the issue is to limit alcoholic consumption to 2 or fewer drinks per day for males and 1 or fewer for females.

Alcohol withdrawal can begin within hours of ending a drinking session. There are many potential triggers for someone who is prone to 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. 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.

Facts About Alcohol and Seizures

According to a 2017 article, alcohol withdrawal seizures in those without epilepsy may occur 6–48 hours after a person consumes their last alcoholic drink. But delirium tremens is a medical emergency and requires a hospital stay. You may need to be sedated for more than a week until the alcohol withdrawal symptoms go away. 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.

  1. A 2017 review found that a history of alcohol misuse increased the risk of post-traumatic epilepsy in people with traumatic brain injury.
  2. Professional help is also available for those struggling with alcohol addiction.
  3. About 5 percent of people detoxing from alcohol abuse will have alcohol withdrawal seizures as part of the process of quitting drinking.
  4. As a general rule, the longer you have been drinking over time and the more you drink, the higher your risk for developing withdrawal symptoms, which may include seizures.
  5. Alcoholic neuropathy occurs when too much alcohol damages the peripheral nerves.

Drinking alcohol can affect your epilepsy, so it’s good to understand the risks and how to drink alcohol safely. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency that may lead to lasting brain damage or death. A 2017 review found that a history of alcohol misuse increased the risk of post-traumatic epilepsy in people with traumatic brain injury.

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Thus, people who have experienced seizures provoked by binge drinking may begin to experience unprovoked epilepsy seizures regardless of alcohol use. If you think you may be alcohol dependent and want to stop drinking, it’s important to get medical advice about how to stop safely. This is to reduce the risk of seizures and other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when someone who has been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol for an extended period of time suddenly stops drinking or reduces their intake. Symptoms can develop just 5 hours after the last drink and persist for weeks.

Alcohol and Epilepsy: A Potential Seizure Trigger

If you experience an alcohol-related seizure, seek immediate medical attention. Professional help is also available for those struggling with alcohol addiction. BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat. They may refer you to a service to help you safely reduce the amount you drink. You could also talk to your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse about your personal level of risk.