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Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disease: Types, Signs, Treatment

It is possible for chronic alcohol consumption to cause seizures in people without a history of seizures. 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.

Alcohol-related seizures can happen when people are acutely intoxicated. It can also occur when an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking and experiences alcohol withdrawal. Drinking small amounts of alcohol is unlikely to make you have more seizures.

Over 50% of alcohol withdrawal seizures may relate to additional risk factors, such as preexisting epilepsy, structural brain lesions, or drug use. According to older research, alcohol consumption may have a causal relationship with seizures, and people who drink 200 g or more of alcohol daily may have up to a 20-fold increase in seizure risk. 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 CMA suggests patients with alcohol dependence, including alcohol withdrawal seizures, should not be allowed to drive any type of motor vehicle.

This may be due to alcohol’s effect on the brain, sleep, and anti-seizure medications. This article looks at the connection between alcohol, seizures, and epilepsy, as well as treatment options and support. Any of us could potentially have a single epileptic seizure at some point in our lives.

  1. Most of these antiepileptic medications also have side effects that mimic those of alcohol.
  2. However, a genetic predisposition to alcohol withdrawal seizures is possible.
  3. In our study population, alcohol consumption is probably underestimated.
  4. Withdrawal seizures can begin within just a few hours after stopping drinking, or they can take up to 72 hours to start.
  5. Alcohol withdrawal seizures are most likely to happen between 6 and 48 hours after your last drink.

You could have alcohol withdrawal seizures if you often drink large amounts of alcohol and stop drinking suddenly. You may be alcohol dependent if you have a strong desire to drink and find it hard to control your drinking. People with or without epilepsy can have seizures after heavy drinking. Alcohol withdrawal seizures are most likely to happen between 6 and 48 hours after your last drink. Heavy alcohol use can lead to seizures, especially when you stop drinking and start to enter a period of withdrawal. However, if you have a seizure disorder or epilepsy, you also face risks when drinking alcohol—both from the increased risk of seizure activity and potential interactions with seizure medications.

What is alcohol-related neurologic disease?

Luckily, current research can help you make wise decisions about your relationship with alcohol. Someone with epilepsy should not drink alcohol without first discussing the potential risks with a doctor who is familiar with their specific condition. Alcohol withdrawal seizures can occur within a few hours or up to 72 hours after stopping drinking.

Helping a Person With Alcohol Seizures

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. Even if alcohol itself doesn’t trigger your or your loved one’s seizures, it’s important to understand whether your antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are compatible with alcohol. As well as this, if you are cocaine crack sick as a result of drinking too much it may affect the levels of medicine in your body. This means they may not work as well as normal in controlling seizures. A 2017 review found that a history of alcohol misuse increased the risk of post-traumatic epilepsy in people with traumatic brain injury. Seizures may occur in around 5% of people with alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

International Patients

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. 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. This change in smaller amounts can lead to the person feeling relaxed. 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.

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. Those with epilepsy who have alcohol dependence and stop drinking suddenly have an additional risk of withdrawal-induced seizures. Excessive alcohol consumption may cause seizures, particularly alcohol withdrawal after heavy drinking. Studies(1) show that persons who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol can increase their risk of seizures by abruptly reducing or discontinuing consumption (withdrawal seizures). This drastic change in habit also increases the risk of developing epilepsy three-fold.

Excessive consumption of alcohol causes alcohol-related neurologic disease. When you consume alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream from the stomach and the small intestine. Researchers have not determined if this is caused by the effects of alcohol on the brain or is the result of thiamine deficiency.

FAQs About Alcohol-Related Seizures

There is a 15- to 20-fold increase in risk of seizures for persons who drink 200 grams of alcohol or more on a daily basis. Some AEDs have side effects that include lowering tolerance for alcohol. This means a person will become intoxicated faster than they used to before they were on the medication. This rapid intoxication can surprise a person and cause them embarrassment, stress, and anxiety — which can, in turn, trigger seizures. 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.

This condition can be acute, affecting people for a short period of time before resolving, or chronic, lasting for a longer period of time. A classification system distinguishes the different types of seizures. Health care professionals typically classify 9 common myths about substance addiction all you need to know seizures as focal or generalized. Seizures are classified based on how and where the brain activity causing the seizure began. If health care professionals don’t know how the seizures began, they may classify the seizures as unknown onset.

Drinking alcohol can also have negative effects on the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The alcohol will continue to circulate in the bloodstream and eventually affect other organs. Up to 46 percent of people with alcohol-related myopathy showed noticeable reductions in strength compared with people without the condition.

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