Clinical Services

Drinking Alcohol & Epilepsy

It is recommended that those with epilepsy avoid alcohol completely if possible. But, since you may want to go out with friends or celebrate a special occasion, this may be an unrealistic expectation. It is important to know the facts about how alcohol affects your body.

Drink in Moderation

When drinking alcohol, always limit yourself to two drinks per day. A standard drink is defined as: one glass of wine, one beer or one shot of spirits. A drink or two does not increase seizure activity but remember to drink slowly since quickly ingesting alcohol could lead to unpredictable effects.

Drinking more than two drinks per day puts epileptics at risk for seizures. Binge drinking (four drinks or more in a day for women and five or more in a day for men) can dramatically increase risk of seizure activity. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Causes Seizures

Epileptic seizures occur in 5 to 15 percent of individuals drinking alcohol, but the majority are due to withdrawal. Typical symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Headache

Withdrawal typically occurs between 6 and 72 hours after consuming alcohol. Withdrawal seizures can happen to anyone, but they are more common in people who suffer from alcoholism. 

How Does Alcohol Affect Epilepsy Medication?

It is important to know that almost all seizure medication can cause drowsiness and dizziness and that alcohol has the capability of making those side effects worse. Some epilepsy medications can cause an increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. Because of this, it is never a good idea to drive after drinking even a small amount, even if your blood alcohol level is under the legal limit. 

Epilepsy Testing, Treatment, and Support in Leesburg, VA

Every person is different and not all medications have the same effects. Be sure to always ask your doctor if you can drink moderate amounts of alcohol. They will be able to take your unique factors into account when making a recommendation. 

If you have any questions about epilepsy and the consumption of alcohol, make an appointment with our specialists at Dr. Seth Tuwiner by calling (703) 293-5244