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Grand Mal seizures after night of drinking, advice please


I am a 22 year old male who is generally health, although for the last about 3 months I have been slacking off with exercising. As a child (younger than 3 years old), I had a few absence seizures (less than 10) and then apparantely grew out of them.

2 months ago I had my first grand mal seizure the morning after a night of hard drinking, I was out for a friends birthday and did not get home until 2:30am. When I woke up in the morning I started playing video games, and within about 20 minutes I had a the grand mal. After going to the hospital and getting a CT scan and EEG, both which returned normal. My doctor told me that it appeared I have a mild seizure disorder, and there was a very low likelihood of another seizure occuring. 6 weeks later I had another grand mal, again after a night of hard drinking and lack of food.

Today, 7 weeks after my first seizure I had my third grand mal, again after a night of drinking, but this night I had eaten very well and drank plenty of water throughout the night. But did go to bed very late, and threw up in the middle of the night.

It seems to me that my seizures are occurring as a result of drinking too much. I am just about to finish university and have so much in my life I still want to do, does anyone here agree that the seizures are occurring because of my drinking? If I were to quit drinking alltogether for a long period of time do you think I could raise my seizure threshold, and also not worry about having an unprovoked seizure?

Thank you.

UPDATE: First of all, thank you for your responses. After quitting drinking and continuing to have seizures, and visiting the doctor again it has been determined that I have Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, and have been put on Valproic Acid for it.


Hey, I would suggest not drinking or for sure not so much and so late into the night! A small amount of alcohol has triggered a seizure for me before. Sleep deprivation is definitely another factor that lowers your seizure threshold. I would be careful if I were you. Your brain is not something to mess with. I would not drink anything but if you want to experiment do so very carefully!!

I quit drinking years ago when I started having seizures. When I do have a seizure, I don't have to ask myself if it was the drinking that caused me to have a seizure. Just quit drinking, I'm surprised a doctor hasn't already told you to.

Do you still have seizures after you quit drinking?

Its probably in your body's best interest to not drink. It's just too risky with seizure threshold.


Boy, you have to started being kinder to yourself!

Large amounts of alcohol are thought to raise the risk of seizures and may even cause them.   Not to mention lowering your tolerence and seizure threshold.

The video game seizure could have been an indication of photosensitive epilepsy where certain types of flickering or flashing light can incite a seizure.  The trigger could be exposure to television screens due to the flicker or rolling images, computer monitors, certain video games or TV broadcasts containing rapid flashes, even alternating patterns of different colors, in addition to intense strobe lights.

And inadequate or fragmented sleep can set off seizures in lots of people. In one study, the lowest risk for seizures was during REM sleep (when dreams occur). The highest risk was during light non-REM stages of sleep. 

So, it looks like you hit the trifecta of common seizure triggers.  All you're missing is stress, cigarettes and caffeine.  (Or are you?)

If it was me, I'd clean up my act and if the seizures continued, I would go to a neuro for diagnostic testing.  But, it's not me, so you have to make your own choices.    Phylis Feiner Johnson

I have had the same problem as you, the solution: quit drinking alcohol.  It took me a while to realize that drinking triggered my seizures also the lack of sleep and not getting the proper hydration after a night of drinking.

If you think about it this way, its not the alcohol itself that triggers the seizures, but what the alcohol converts to when its metabolizing in your system, alcohol (or ethanol) first converts to acetaldehyde which is extremely toxic for the body in high concentrations (it is this chemical, not ethanol, that causes issues such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and can lower anyone's seizure threshold).  The body can get overwhelmed with acetaldehyde and may not be able to convert it fast enough to a less toxic substance: Acetic Acid (the same chemical which gives vinegar that awful smell).  The body has to break this down even further to make a substance that your system can tolerate: Acetyl CoA.  Then after that the body reduces the Acetyl CoA to carbon dioxide and water.  Too much carbon dioxide in you system can also have negative effects along with a high concentration of acetaldehyde (if the body cannot metabolize it fast enough).  If your on AED's, then drinking will lower your threshold even further.  People who suffer seizures already have a hypersensitive system (chemically speaking), and push this hypersensitive system over the edge by drinking and lack of sleep is just asking for trouble.

Sorry for such a long explanation, but I think its important that the more information people know about how toxic drinking can be to their system the better, especially if a side effect of drinking can be tonic clonic (grand mal) seizures. 

On a side note:  If your friends give you a hard time or a guilt trip about not drinking (which was a problem for me), screw them, they are not your real friends.

Take Care!!!!


Do you have any thoughts on why I have all the sudden started having seizures. I mean I have overdrank to the point of a bad hangover before, so why now have I just started having seizures with my hangovers as well?

That's the $million dollar$ question, nobody knows.  You may get away with drinking heavily some nights and be fine, but why risk it?  However, since you have had seizures when you were little, you may be more at risk for having seizures. When I had my first seizure (tonic clonic) I thought it was just a one time thing and didn't have another one until 4 years later.  If I were you, I would start a diary writing down everything, that way you can get an idea of what may trigger your seizures in addition to alcohol and lack of sleep.  My triggers, for example, are lack of sleep, alcohol, stress, getting sick (cold or flu season I know I have to take extra care of myself), and not eating (if you combine all of those together its guaranteed I will have a tonic clonic).

I'm sorry I can't give you more info (but I'm sure you've already read all the info about epilepsy on this website), but I would suggest finding an epileptologist so you can get diagnosed and getting on meds (if you're not already on them).

Take care and good luck!!!


you have your own answer.  drinking causes seizures.  You are  not the only one, but stopping the drinking should not be a question any longer.  If you drink, more than likely you will seize.  make your own decision, just understand the results of your decision.

hope it helps,  rikk

I (the mother) just re-posted my profile about my son who is 22 having seizures.  After reading this posting, it is really getting me to think!  I'm sorry you're going through this, but it's helping me analyze what is going on with my son.  He has a beer here and there, with me and his dad, but we don't drink strong alcohol at this house at all, it's not accepted or allowed.  When he started having the seizures really bad about 2 years ago, I talked with his friends and asked them about any heavy drinking.  They said no, but were also concerned about him, because they had seen the seizures.  He's on medication, Keppra, but still has seizures once in a while, because he's not taking it at the same time every day, misses a dose, etc.  He had 2 really bad ones, in the last 4 months where he bit his tongue, saliva out of his mouth, peeing out of control, etc.  After hearing what you posted, though, I know what I have to do as the parent.  I need to sit him down and find out exactly what he's doing and talk to his friends and tell them that if they are his friends, they will now allow him to drink!  I know it's his decision, but as one person posted, if they're really friends, they will help him and not promote it.  I do not ever want to come home, having my son having a seizure in the bathroom (which he has many times) and hit his head in the bathtub and be dead. 

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