Alcohol as a Seizure Trigger

About half of people with alcoholism will develop withdrawal symptoms upon reducing their use, with four percent developing severe symptoms. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have been described at least as early as 400 BC by Hippocrates. It is not believed to have become a widespread problem until the 1700s. Once a diagnosis of alcohol-withdrawal seizure is made, management focuses on patient safety, minimizing the risk for a second withdrawal seizure, and patient education.

  • There is no evidence that alcohol-related seizures confer additional maternal or fetal risk, over and above those of alcohol abuse and seizures independently.
  • Refractory is a medical term that simply means that a condition is not responding to normal treatments.
  • The period of greatest seizure risk is between 6-48 hours after someone has taken their last drink of alcohol.
  • Chemical dependence is one of the most significant factors in your risk of experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms when you quit drinking.
  • We described the many different types and categories of seizures beforehand, so we won’t rehash that here.
  • Multivitamins and thiamine should be provided during treatment for alcohol withdrawal.

Inpatient and residential treatment can provide additional medical monitoring to ensure your safety and sobriety. The kinds of withdrawal symptoms you experience will depend on the substance you were dependent on. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows down nervous system activity in the brain. Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure When that depressant is removed, you may feel a sudden lack of its rewarding effects, leading to nervousness, insomnia, and anxiety. Seizures, while scary on their own, can also be a warning sign of the DTs. Someone who does have a seizure during detox will likely be transferred to a hospital setting, as seizures tend to repeat.


Signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal occur primarily in the central nervous system. The severity of withdrawal can vary from mild symptoms such as insomnia, trembling, and anxiety to severe and life-threatening symptoms such as alcoholic hallucinosis, delirium tremens, and autonomic instability. Nearly half of seizure admissions to a city hospital were attributable to alcohol withdrawal. Whereas only a small percentage of patients withdrawing from alcohol develop status epilepticus, alcohol withdrawal may be a complicating factor in approximately one fifth of all patients with status epilepticus. Likewise, alcohol withdrawal may precipitate seizures in patients with idiopathic or symptomatic epilepsy.

Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure

Thus, humans with exhibit abnormalities in auditory-evoked potentials that are not observed in other settings, including increased latency to wave V , whose major source is the IC . The absolute best way to prevent or reduce the risk of alcohol withdrawal seizures is to enter a detox center. Individuals will differ in their tolerances to certain medications, and medical professionals will be able to determine the unique needs of each person. The dangers posed by these seizures should not be taken lightly, and there are safe and effective treatments available. All that is required to safely stop using alcohol is the willingness to ask for help.

What Happens After Alcohol Detox?

This does not seem to be due to the seizures themselves, but rather due to complications which arise from severe alcohol withdrawal. This suggests that alcohol withdrawal seizures may indicate deeper underlying issues that may warrant a further diagnosis, treatment, and care. Several medications have shown early promise in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure

This risk is caused by chemical changes in the brain that lower the seizure threshold. As symptoms become more severe, the seizure threshold lowers and seizures become more likely. The first 50 search results were opened and reviewed for relevant materials. A professional health sciences librarian developed our search strategy. We searched MEDLINE and CENTRAL using concepts emergency department AND alcohol withdrawal AND . We searched EMBASE using concepts emergency department AND alcohol withdrawal AND , as well as concepts emergency department AND alcohol withdrawal AND drugs AND drug subheadings. Subheadings and keywords were included in the searches to increase sensitivity.

Patient Education

If certain medications decrease the kindling effect, they may become preferred agents. An important concept in both alcohol craving and alcohol withdrawal is the “kindling” phenomenon; the term refers to long-term changes that occur in neurons after repeated detoxifications. Recurrent detoxifications are postulated to increase obsessive thoughts or alcohol craving.5 Kindling explains the observation that subsequent episodes of alcohol withdrawal tend to progressively worsen. Alcohol enhances the effect of GABA on GABA-A neuroreceptors, resulting in decreased overall brain excitability. Chronic exposure to alcohol results in a compensatory decrease of GABA-A neuroreceptor response to GABA, evidenced by increasing tolerance of the effects of alcohol. The DTs is a very serious health emergency that can emerge during alcohol detox rather suddenly. The DTs are most common among those who have been heavy drinkers for a long time.

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