The destructive effects of alcohol spread throughout the body, but some organs and systems suffer the most. The most serious consequences for the body occur with alcoholic damage to the nervous system, because with its help the regulation of the work of the whole organism and human life as a whole is carried out.
Of course, even episodic drinking is harmful to the brain. However, the human body has a huge margin of safety, so the periodic use of small doses of alcohol does not lead to any critical changes in the functioning of the nervous system. Such changes occur with regular abuse of alcohol, that is, with chronic alcoholism.
Alcoholic epilepsy and its causes
One of the pathologies that occur with alcoholism is alcoholic epilepsy. This disease does not occur in everyone who suffers from chronic alcohol dependence. The risks of getting alcoholic epilepsy increase with the experience of alcoholism. Most often, epilepsy develops in those who abuse alcohol for more than 10 years, but in some cases 2-3 years is enough. It depends on the individual characteristics of the body, and it is very difficult to predict the likelihood of developing alcoholic epilepsy. Some alcoholics do not even have it at the last stage of alcoholism.
Alcoholic epilepsy occurs as a result of the constant destructive effect of alcohol on the brain. Alcohol poisons toxins throughout the body. When poisons are contained in large quantities in the body and are not eliminated from there (as occurs with chronic alcoholism), pathological changes begin to occur in the brain. They occur at the biochemical level: all brain processes are disrupted, neurons die. As a result of such violations, epileptic foci arise.
Additionally, the occurrence of alcoholic epilepsy can be caused by neuroinfections (meningitis, encephalitis), traumatic brain injuries, and oncological diseases of the brain.
Manifestations of alcoholic epilepsy
In the vast majority of cases, alcoholic epilepsy begins to appear in a person in a state of intoxication, and only when the disease progresses, seizures can even be sober. Externally, alcoholic epilepsy, like other varieties of this disease, manifests itself in the form of seizures.
However, the onset of an attack is always preceded by some symptoms:
- irritability appears, mood swings;
- muscle tension occurs in the body;
- visual function is impaired;
- headache appears, turbidity of consciousness.
These symptoms are a precursor to an imminent attack of epilepsy. They can occur both a few hours before the attack, and a day. However, since bouts of alcoholic epilepsy usually begin when drunk, a person does not notice these symptoms due to intoxication.
The attack of alcoholic epilepsy itself is difficult to confuse with something, because it has very pronounced characteristic symptoms:
- muscle cramps throughout the body;
- difficulty breathing, wheezing, crying out;
- pale skin and blue lips;
- increased salivation or vomiting.
The attack can last from 1 to 3 minutes. During an attack, the patient often falls or throws his head back. Due to severe seizures, control over the body is completely lost, so a person can inadvertently harm himself.
After the attack, the person feels exhausted. Severe pains throughout the body may bother him. Sometimes after an episode of alcoholic epilepsy, a person “turns off” and sleeps for a long time, and sometimes on the contrary, he is awake for a long time. Wakefulness may be accompanied by hallucinations.
What to do during an attack of alcoholic epilepsy
An attack of alcoholic epilepsy occurs and passes by itself, it is impossible to stop it by some external influences. As mentioned earlier, it usually lasts no longer than 3 minutes. However, if the attack lasts a long time and does not go away, or if a new one begins immediately after the cessation of the attack, emergency medical attention is needed. In other cases, all that needs to be done during an epilepsy attack is to protect the patient from the possibility of harming himself.
- It is necessary to ensure that a person does not fall during an attack, because if you fall, there is a chance to hit your head. It’s best to gently place it on the floor, putting something soft under your head and moving aside all objects that it might hit during seizures. Convulsive movements themselves should not be restrained.
- If possible, you need to free the body from the constraining movement of clothes, unfasten the buttons on the shirt and belt.
- To prevent retention of the tongue, the patient’s head must be turned on its side. It is better to insert a towel or other object into the mouth that will not allow the teeth to compress strongly. This is necessary so that a person does not bite his tongue.
- If vomiting begins, the patient must be completely turned on his side so that he does not choke on the vomit.
After the attack, the person needs to be allowed to recover and relax.
How to treat alcoholic epilepsy
If an episode of alcoholic epilepsy occurred once, this means that the disease is already present and can not be ignored. If alcoholic epilepsy is not treated, it will progress, leading to even more damaging effects on the brain. The hardest of them is fatal.
The sooner you pay attention to alcoholic epilepsy, the greater the chance that you will be able to get rid of the attacks and the person will be able to live a normal life. However, this is not about a complete cure, but about maintaining normal life with drugs.
Since alcoholic epilepsy is provoked by ethanol intoxication, it is necessary to begin its treatment in parallel with getting rid of alcohol dependence. If refusal of alcohol does not occur, treatment of alcoholic epilepsy will be completely meaningless.
To get rid of alcoholic epilepsy, complex measures are needed: in addition to refusing alcohol, this is drug therapy and psychotherapy. Of the medicines in this case, antiepileptic drugs are prescribed (suppress the foci of excitation in the brain), anticonvulsants, sedatives (tranquilizers, antidepressants).
After a course of treatment, a person needs a rehabilitation period and psychological support. In this case, it is important not only to remove the attacks of epilepsy and restore the brain, but also to say goodbye to alcohol. This process can take a lot of time, but as a result, a person can return to normal life in society.