If you have epilepsy, is it safe to drink alcohol?

By Dr. Eduardo Locatelli

Excessive drinking is not good for anyone. For people with epilepsy, drinking excessively can induce seizures because of the effect alcohol has on the brain.The effects of alcohol can temporarily reduce seizures for a few hours, but then increase the chances of having seizures as the alcohol leaves your body. Alcohol can also interact with anti-epileptic drugs, making them less effective. Heavy drinking can also lead to missed dosages of medications, lack of sleep, and a patient’s overall well-being, which can trigger seizures.

Many people with epilepsy find they can drink “socially,” meaning they can have one or two occasional drinks without increasing the chances of having a seizure. Other people find that even a small amount of alcohol triggers their seizures and consequently may choose not to drink alcohol at all. Each of us is born with a different threshold level. Those with a low seizure threshold are more likely to experience seizures than those with a high seizure threshold. Since alcohol can make seizures more likely to occur, know your threshold.

Did you know that there is roughly the same amount of alcohol in a glass of wine, a bottle of beer and a shot of liquor? Please check with your doctor before deciding on your own alcohol use. Have you talked with your doctor about the kind of medicine you are taking and how it might react with beer, wine, or hard liquor?

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