How Are Epilepsy and Alcohol Linked?

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How Are Epilepsy and Alcohol Linked?

Epilepsy is a common neurological condition, impacting millions of people across the United States. About one of every three people with epilepsy struggles with uncontrolled seizures because no treatment available works for them. An increased risk of seizures is associated with many risk factors. Learn more about the relationship between epilepsy and alcohol.

Challenging Relationship

Many studies have focused on alcohol-induced seizures experienced during acute alcohol withdrawal. Few studies have examined the onset of epilepsy as an independent occurrence among people who abuse alcohol.  The risk of seizures goes up depending on the amount of alcohol a person drinks. Daily alcohol consumption can be measured by the number of pure ethanol grams consumed.

Alcohol-Related Seizures

The relationship between alcohol and seizures is complex. Long-term alcohol abuse can change the alcohol level seizure threshold and increase the risk of prolonged or sustained seizures. Alcohol can trigger seizures unrelated to withdrawal and impair seizure control in people with epilepsy. There is a correlation between ethanol consumption and activation of mTOR signaling, which induces seizures in mice during trials conducted on them.

Drinking with Epilepsy

People who suffer from epilepsy who also drink can consume less than 50 grams of alcohol without increasing the risk of seizures. If a person consumes more than 200 grams a day, the risk increases 15 to 20 times. It is important to note alcohol withdrawal has been shown to increase the risk of sudden unexpected death from epilepsy. It is believed long-term alcohol abuse is a risk factor for developing epilepsy later in life. People who drink while struggling with epilepsy may find that they have a lower alcohol tolerance when taking anti-epileptic drugs and may suffer from adverse effects of the drugs along with alcohol.

It is important to seek medical help if you are struggling with alcohol abuse, especially if you already struggle with physical issues such as epilepsy. Medically supervised detox is the only safe option to ensure you do not suffer potentially fatal repercussions of withdrawal during the process.

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