Most people can drink alcohol without suffering ill effects. However, when a person becomes dependent on alcohol and suddenly stops drinking it, they may have seizures. Binge drinkers might also find they have seizures, even if they do not suffer from epilepsy. What surprises many people is they only need to be without alcohol for a few hours before the seizures start. Seizures can also occur up to 72 hours after they stop drinking.
Moderation is Key
Most people can drink alcohol without worrying about seizures. However, heavy drinkers find that the tolerance they build to alcohol affects the central nervous system. When they stop drinking, the risk of seizures increases.
The longer a person has been drinking and the amount they regularly consume is directly tied to the increased risk of seizures. One study even found that heavy drinkers were 73 percent more likely to have a seizure than those who are light to moderate drinkers. This is one reason heavy drinkers should consider detox in orange county when they wish to give up this habit.
Withdrawal and Seizures
When the body becomes dependent on a substance, such as alcohol, a person will go through withdrawal if they suddenly stop using the substance. Tonic-clonic seizures or convulsions are the most common and severe type of seizure. They affect up to 33 percent of individuals dealing with significant alcohol withdrawal. Why is this dangerous?
Tonic-clonic seizures occur in two phases. The alcoholic’s muscles stiffen and they may make a groaning sound or cry out when air is forced through the vocal cords. They lose consciousness at this time and fall to the floor. When they do so, they often bite the tongue or inside of the cheek, leading to saliva that appears bloody.
The clonic phase follows the tonic phase. The limbs begin to jerk rapidly and in rhythm. Their elbows, hips, and knees will bend, and these movements continue for a few minutes. If the seizure persists or interferes with their breathing, the face may turn blue or darkish. Some people lose control of their bladder or bowels when the body relaxes and they will slowly regain consciousness.
Seizures usually last one to three minutes, but the alcoholic will need time to recover. They may appear confused or become irritable after the seizure ends, and they often feel the need to sleep. They might also become depressed.
Medical help is needed immediately if the seizure continues for more than five minutes. Call 911 to get this help. In addition, if the person has three seizures, one right after the other, and they don’t regain consciousness between the seizures, call 911. This is known as status epilepticus and requires immediate medical attention.
Increased Risk of Epilepsy
Heavy drinkers are more at risk of developing epilepsy. Receptors in the brain undergo changes when alcohol is consumed in large amounts, and these changes lead to an increased risk of seizures. However, a person may never drink alcohol and still develop epilepsy. Any person who has been diagnosed with epilepsy should talk to their doctor before consuming alcohol, as it may affect their medications. In addition, any alcohol withdrawal in an epileptic puts them more at risk of seizures.
Heavy drinkers may feel as if they can quit cold turkey. However, doing so could lead to medical complications, such as seizures. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms must be monitored by medical professionals, so steps can be taken if a person has seizures or other complications. Reach out today for help, as every person deserves to live a happy and sober life. With the right alcohol addiction treatment program, they can have exactly this.