Author: John Carter

Alcohol and Seizures Can Alcohol or Withdrawal Trigger a Seizure?

alcohol withdrawal seizure

Table 2 lists the risk of bias assessments for the studies we summarized. There were seven RCTs, two retrospective cohort studies, and four retrospective chart reviews. Interventional studies with or without a comparator group, including randomized controlled trials (RCT) and non-randomized trials, as well as observational cohort studies that evaluated an intervention. We excluded review articles and case reports, studies published prior to 1980, non-English publications, and non-human studies. It’s important to be honest about your alcohol use — and any other substance use — so your provider can give you the best care.

  1. It’s important to get medical help even if you have mild symptoms of withdrawal, as it’s difficult to predict in the beginning how much worse the symptoms could get.
  2. After ED treatment, clinicians must determine if patients are safe for discharge, or if they require hospital admission for further management.
  3. This higher risk of severe withdrawal symptoms can happen even if you’ve used different kinds of central nervous symptom depressants.
  4. The first may involve a loss of consciousness with increased muscle rigidity.

The main concern over the development of delirium tremens during alcohol withdrawal is the threat of mortality that comes with it. Delirium tremens is estimated to come with a 35% risk of death if you go through it without treatment. Alcohol is the common name for drinking alcohol, but it’s actually a specific chemical in a broad category of chemicals called alcohol.

Seizures can also cause your blood pressure and heart rate to increase. Along with alcohol’s other effects on your heart, you could experience dangerous heart-related symptoms, such as stroke or cardiac arrest. If you’re taking any drug or substance that can cause chemical dependence, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous. When your body develops chemical dependence on alcohol, it adapts to a consistent chemical balance change over time.

How Does Alcohol Work in the Brain?

Depressants like alcohol can cause your muscles to relax, but withdrawal can cause tremors, muscle tightness, and seizures. Alcohol withdrawal seizures are similar to tonic-clonic seizures, which are often seen with issues like epilepsy. The first may involve a loss of consciousness with increased muscle rigidity.

When you stop drinking abruptly, a significant chemical change happens all at once. This will throw your body into chemical imbalance, which leads to uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal. The authors report that over 90% of alcohol withdrawal seizures occur within 48 hours after the last drink.

Long-term alcohol use can increase your risk of developing epilepsy, a condition where you are prone to having seizures. While the reason for this is not fully understood, alcohol does create changes in receptors in your brain that affect your likelihood of having a seizure. While epilepsy can develop on its own in people who do not use alcohol, long-term alcohol use will increase the risk of epilepsy developing in some people.

Alcohol use disorders cover a range of severity from mild to moderate to severe. Someone with a mild-to-moderate alcohol use disorder may have a problem with alcohol without developing significant dependence. In such cases, alcohol withdrawal may not occur when they cut back or quit drinking. However, about half of people with alcohol use disorders will experience withdrawal symptoms.

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If you seek treatment for an alcohol use disorder, you will likely begin with a medical assessment. If you’re dependent on alcohol, you may need to go through a tapering period with the help of a doctor. People with moderate-to-severe alcohol use disorder often begin with a medical detox program.

alcohol withdrawal seizure

We conducted a rapid review by searching MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1980 to 2020). We searched for grey literature on Google and hand-searched the conference abstracts of relevant addiction medicine and emergency medicine professional associations (2015 to 2020). We included interventional and observational studies that reported outcomes of clinical interventions aimed at treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome in adults in the ED. While you’re in inpatient treatment, you may also be treated with IV fluid, which can help keep you hydrated through the withdrawal process.

What Causes Alcohol Dependence?

In line with our goal of producing this evidence summary expeditiously, we did not publish a review protocol or register this review prior to study initiation. Many involve a combination of group psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. Additionally, if a seizure cannot be stopped or multiple seizures occur in rapid succession, it could result in permanent injury or prove fatal. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, seizures by themselves typically are not fatal.

Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention. Below is a collection of FAQs based on what we do know about this subject. Before full-text screening, articles were flagged for secondary review by the principal investigator (JM) as needed. Inclusion and exclusion decisions for full-text articles were performed in duplicate by two trained reviewers (MM and JK).

In people with epilepsy, drinking three or more drinks may increase the risk of seizures. Over half of those with alcohol withdrawal seizures may have repeat seizures, and up to 5% of cases may lead to status epilepticus. Alcohol may negatively affect sleep, and sleep disruptions may trigger seizures. For people with epilepsy, alcohol may interact with epilepsy medications and worsen their side effects or make the medications less effective in preventing seizures.

Furthermore, our findings contribute more rigorous evidence compared to those previously published in expert opinion articles and narrative reviews. As most included studies were conducted in the United States and Canada, we are confident that our findings are likely generalizable within the North American context. Benzodiazepines are also central nervous system depressants that work in the brain the same way as alcohol.