Author: John Carter

Alcohol and Seizures Can Alcohol or Withdrawal Trigger a Seizure?

alcohol and seizures

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, some studies have linked chronic alcohol misuse to the development of epilepsy. On MyEpilepsyTeam, the social network and online support group for people with epilepsy and their loved ones, members have discussed alcohol, epilepsy, and seizure triggers. A doctor will take a thorough health history and have you complete questionnaires related to alcohol intake to help diagnose these conditions. Alcohol withdrawal seizures can occur within a few hours or up to 72 hours after stopping drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous for many reasons, but seizures and the possible development of delirium tremens increase the risk of severe complications or even death.

  1. 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.
  2. You can work with your health care professional to balance seizure control and medicine side effects.
  3. There are some specific considerations that may affect your risk of seizures when using alcohol.
  4. These symptoms can occur in addition to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  5. Join the conversation today to share your experiences and connect with others on MyEpilepsyTeam.

Drinking alcohol can also have negative effects on the peripheral nervous system (PNS). This includes the nerves that send signals to the muscles and organs. This is a severe and short-term neurologic disease that can be life threatening. However, certain food groups also have benefits when it comes to helping with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification. Below is a collection of FAQs based on what we do know about this subject.

Several treatment options and interventions can help a person recover from alcohol dependence. Once a person stops using alcohol, they can often experience recovery from symptoms, though in some cases, some damage may be permanent. 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. 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.

Seizure medicines can lower your tolerance for alcohol, so the immediate effects of alcohol consumption are greater. Rapid intoxication is a big problem because many of the side effects of these medicines are similar to the acute effects of alcohol itself. If you are sensitive to alcohol or seizure medicines, you may find the combination even worse. Most of these antiepileptic medications also have side effects that mimic those of alcohol.

Seizure stages

People who drink large amounts of alcohol and suddenly stop are at a higher-than-usual risk of seizures. About 5 percent of people detoxing from alcohol abuse will have alcohol withdrawal seizures as part of the process of quitting drinking. This can happen whether or not a person has epilepsy at the time of the withdrawal. However, people with epilepsy may be more likely to have seizures while going through alcohol withdrawal. People with epilepsy should consult their doctor before using alcohol, as alcohol can affect epilepsy medications.

Do not mix anti-seizure medication and alcohol without first speaking to a physician. A report from 2021 also found that alcohol-related deaths were five times more likely in people with epilepsy than those without the condition. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency that may lead to lasting brain damage or death. Unprovoked seizures that occur more than 48 hours after a person’s last drink may be due to another cause, such as head injury or withdrawal from other drugs.

Someone with an alcohol withdrawal seizure may experience convulsions and lose consciousness. If an alcohol withdrawal seizure occurs, it is a medical emergency. Binge drinking and alcohol withdrawal together can cause seizures, even in people not previously diagnosed with epilepsy. Binge drinking refers to a scenario where you drink a lot in a short period of time, and the seizures related to binge drinking can stem from withdrawal. Even if you’re not a chronic drinker, in some cases, you may also experience withdrawal seizures after binge drinking.

Alcohol-related myopathy

Alcohol withdrawal seizures may begin within hours to days of stopping alcohol use or starting an alcohol detox. The timeframe will be different for everyone, but seizures will normally start within the first 72 hours. Drinking alcohol in small amounts generally does not trigger seizures, but seizures can result from alcohol withdrawal.

alcohol and 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. Some studies have shown that alcoholism, or chronic abuse of alcohol, is linked with the development of epilepsy in some people. 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. When this effect occurs deeply or over a long period of time, brain activity can rebound during alcohol withdrawal, exceeding normal levels and creating the risk of a seizure.

If you are especially sensitive to either your AED or alcohol, it may be best to avoid drinking while taking that particular medication. Some common epileptic triggers are physical or emotional stress, eating certain foods, flashing lights, and even lack of sleep. But one of the most discussed triggers on MyEpilepsyTeam is alcohol. Let’s take a look at the relationship between alcohol and seizures to shed some light on why drinking is a potential trigger.

Binge Drinking Seizures

The alcohol will continue to circulate in the bloodstream and eventually affect other organs. Fetal alcohol syndrome can occur when a person is exposed to alcohol before birth. It usually develops as symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy go away. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking less or not at all may help you avoid neurological harm. Consuming too much, especially over months or years, can result in severe symptoms.

When you consume alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream from the stomach and the small intestine. Risks for the baby can include brain damage and developmental, cognitive, and behavioral issues. No amount of alcohol is safe to drink while pregnant, according to the CDC. While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease. 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.

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. Alcoholic neuropathy occurs when too much alcohol damages the peripheral nerves. This can be permanent, as alcohol can cause changes to the nerves themselves. Deficiencies in B6 and B12, thiamine, folate, niacin, and vitamin E can make it worse.

If you have epilepsy, drinking alcohol can have serious consequences. Most people with epilepsy are told not to drink, but that’s not always realistic. Knowing the facts about alcohol as a seizure trigger can help you adjust drinking decisions as needed. The choice about whether to drink alcohol as someone with epilepsy goes beyond, “Does alcohol cause epileptic seizures? ” You need to consider more factors than just the alcohol itself — especially your medications.

They may slow down central nervous system responses, make a person sleepy, or cause parts of the brain to work differently. If you research a medication and these symptoms show up, it’s likely that AED will lower your tolerance for alcohol, too. 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. Furthermore, seizures seemed particularly likely if the participants did not regularly drink that much alcohol.