Alcoholic epilepsy is a complication of alcoholism. The manifestations of the disease are suddenly appearing seizures. The attack begins with loss of consciousness, and then the person’s face pales greatly, gradually acquiring cyanosis. Often, during an epileptic fit the patient is foaming at the mouth, he can bite his tongue, and the vomiting often appears.
When convulsions stop, the patient gradually regains consciousness. Often after a fit the person is falling asleep for 1-2 hours.
And that, unfortunately, will happen more than once. The danger of alcoholic epilepsy is that it develops into a chronic disease, and seizures recur irrespectively of the fact of drinking alcohol by the person. This is happening thanks to the fact that in the brain because of long-lasting alcohol consumption has began the pathological process, which is now aggravating even without an alcohol intoxication.
The cause of this serious disease is a long-term alcohol poisoning, especially if the patient has used denatured alcohol and alcohol substitutes containing fusel oil and other toxic contaminants. The traumatic brain injury, atherosclerosis and infectious diseases can also give rise to the alcoholic epilepsy.
Alcoholic epilepsy has the following symptoms:
- fainting, loss of consciousness;
- burning pain;
- feeling of constriction, squeezing, cramping muscles of hands and legs.
In particularly severe cases, seizures may repeat for several times in a short period of time. Some patients on the next morning after binge feel a burning pain in the feet and hands. Actually, they don’t have seizures, but it feels like cramps of the limb muscles.
Alcoholic epilepsy has some distinctive features:
- epileptic seizures may occur in the first few days after the termination of drinking by the patient;
- during an attack may appear hallucinations which are specific for the alcoholism;
- after the attack may increase the symptoms of withdrawal, expressed in fantastic hallucinations, sleep disturbances; also the further development of delirium tremens is possible;
- the patient demonstrates an alcoholic degradation of the personality – he is getting furious, touchy, picky, his attention is very reduced. There may occur disorders of the speech, sleep and behavior;
- EEG doesn’t contain the epileptic signs;
- in the treatment of alcoholic epilepsy besides from anticonvulsants are used also psychotherapy, physiotherapy and vitamins.
Each epileptic seizure, even short-term, is a risk to the health and life of the patient. If the person will fall, he can be seriously injured and during vomiting in an unconscious state he may choke. Without an emergency medical care such an attack can be a threat to the patient’s life.
But it is dangerous not only because of injuries, but because of changes in the human psyche. And these changes are the stronger the more severe is the degree of alcoholism. The patients suffering from alcoholic epilepsy have a hot temper and irritability, frivolity, memory loss and weakening of the will. Their judgments are superficial, the range of interests is narrowed and working skills are reducing.
At work, these people do not follow the discipline; make scandals and fights at home and even in public places. At hangover they are malicious, rude, irritable and aggressive. Often they have mental oppression, turning into depression. The severely depressed patients often express the idea of self-mutilation and suicide. And if first of such statements is a grandstand play, but in the future the alcoholic can fulfill them.
The patients suffering from alcoholic epilepsy have the suicide attempts which are often associated with a feeling of inferiority, developed over the years, as well as with the loss of moral and ethical principles. To the idea of an aimless existence lead regular troubles at work, quarrels in the family, a marked impairment of health due to the constant drinking alcohol (cirrhosis, gastritis) and the loss of hope for recovery.
Basically alcoholic epilepsy affects people aged 25-45 years with the term of drinking alcohol of 6-10 years. But epilepsy can sometimes occur even after two years of alcoholism. The frequency of alcohol epilepsy seizures depends on the individual peculiarities of the personality, so the clear forecast when the attack will occur and after how many seizures the epilepsy will become chronic, is difficult to give. Before this happens, one person will have only one attack, while others — up to 20. Some alcoholics have seizures after each drinking bout, while others — not always.
The appearance of alcoholic epilepsy says that there happen a serious organic brain damage due to the toxic poisoning of the body and there is already a considerable degree of encephalopathy.
First aid for alcoholic epilepsy
Alcoholic epilepsy seizures occur suddenly, but they are preceded by certain sensations of the patient. He could feel the cold or heat, and some visual disturbances: in the field of view of the patient may appear points and different figures, sizes and the perception of objects get disturbed. Also often occur audio hallucinations, rapid change of mood, strengthening of the appetite and sharp thirst.
After that the patient loses consciousness, raises a loud cry and falls down. The cry occurs due to spasm of the glottic chink and twitching of the chest muscles.
If you’ve noticed the first signs of upcoming epileptic seizure, do not let the patient to fall flat on his back, so he did not get injured. Try to behave calmly and do not restrain the power of the convulsive movements of the patient. You should not keep hardly the limbs of the patient, or he may get injured. If the place where the patient fell into a fit, does not carry a threat for the patient’s health, it is better not to move him.
You should protect the patient’s head and limbs from injuries by placing them onto soft objects, and putting the life-threatening objects rather far off. Undo the buttons on his clothes and remove the belt.
It is necessary to turn the head of the patient to the side, so that he didn’t bite his tongue and to prevent saliva from getting in respiratory tract. If there is vomiting, the patient’s body should be turned on the side. It’s not recommended to try to decompress the patient’s teeth, otherwise the «savior» is in danger of having of the bitten finger. You should only insert between the jaws of the patient the spoon handle or other object wrapped with a bandage, a towel or tissue.
Seizures will stop spontaneously after 2-3 minutes, then it is necessary to give the patient to recover and, if necessary, to sleep well. Often after an epileptic seizure a patient may experience confusion of consciousness and weakness. It’ll stop in 5-30 minutes. Only after that the patient will be able to stand on his own.
The emergency medical care is required to the patient if the seizure lasts more than half an hour or seizures come one after the other.
A man, who had endured epileptic seizure, must refer to a neurologist.
Helping measures at small seizures (absence seizures)
Absences are the small seizures which alcoholics have not often, but you should know its manifestations. Such strokes are characterized by short dullness of consciousness with fading movements and speech. These mini-seizures in most cases stay unnoticed. The person with absences does not require special assistance, but it is recommended to watch him until his gaining consciousness.
Helping measures at psychomotor fit
Psychomotor seizures are characterized by automatic movements of the patient with incomplete awareness of his actions. This phenomenon is quite common in alcoholic epilepsy. During the attack the perception of reality is distorted, the patient may face fears and vague sensations. Also may develop the after-attack amnesia.
Treatment of alcoholic epilepsy
Treatment of such a disease as alcohol epilepsy usually gives satisfactory results. If the patient completely refuses alcohol, seizures stop, and in most cases do not repeat. But in case the patient ignores medical advice and continues to drink alcohol, epileptic seizures become more frequent and even come in series. Further alcohol poisoning of organism provokes serious violations of the brain, and a time may come when even the absolute abstinence from alcohol does not become an obstacle for seizures.
If there appeared the first epileptic seizure, you should never trample on this complication of alcoholism. There’s no hope for an independent favorable outcome. The sooner the treatment begins; the better would be the chance to recover from alcoholic epilepsy. But the treatment will be long and continuous; otherwise the patient’s condition will be inevitably aggravated.
If the patient does not get rid of alcoholism — the worst enemy of his health – any means would not prevent him of the painful seizures of epilepsy. A return to a sober life depends not only on doctors. Relatives and friends of the patient must ensure that the patient clearly has complied with all directions of a doctor, and even the slightest concessions in this situation are unacceptable.
Anyone who saw the alcoholic epilepsy attack cannot get rid of a horrible impression for a long time. Many people try to find the video which shows this attack on the internet, and to demonstrate this video to their loved ones who suffer from alcoholism, in the hope that he will stop in due time. But it is a terrible sight only for the people with a healthy mindset. The thinking of alcoholic is in disorder, so he would not realize what is wanted that he has understood by showing this video. One should not spend his time on this, and better focus all his efforts at the motivation of the patient to the treatment of alcoholism. It should be noted that the patient with alcoholic seizures needs an immediate treatment.
For the treatment of alcoholism is applied a set of measures which includes: medication, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, rehabilitation therapy, as well as socialization.
The consequences of alcohol epilepsy are extremely terrible and devastating. Alcoholism leads to a violation of functioning of the organs and systems, as a result of which appear the diseases which are not treatable and lead to death. The liver is affected by alcoholism most severely; as a consequence develops its dystrophy and cirrhosis.
General poisoning with plenty of toxins of the organism of alcoholic often leads to the development of coronary heart disease, hypertension, occur atrophy of the gastric mucosa and ulcerative lesions, and also the pancreatitis.
The psyche and brain of the person is also an easy target for alcohol. Under the effect of alcohol the neurons in the brain are destructed, that’s why chronic alcoholics are frequently in the state of depression, have poor memory, and developing dementia. The vision and hearing may also deteriorate. In severe cases, the condition worsens to the point where a person commits suicide. Alcoholism is keeping a person out of the true meaning of life; it takes away his family, friends, work, and the ability to live a normal life in society.
One cannot completely eliminate the after-effects of alcoholic epilepsy, but there’s a hope that after the treatment the brain function will partially recover and the process of thinking will improve. The probability that a person will stop drinking is also not excluded.