What to Do If a Friend or Loved One Has an Alcohol-Related Seizure

Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition that can cause alcohol seizures. Signs of alcohol poisoning include stupor, confusion, vomiting, an inability to wake up, slowed or irregular breathing, pale or bluish skin color and seizures. If you see someone suffering from an alcohol seizure, call for medical help immediately, then follow these steps.
Alcohol Seizures

During the Seizure

There is nothing you can do to stop a seizure, so your primary goal is to keep the person safe until the seizure ends. Remain calm and try to keep other people in the vicinity calm as well. Follow these steps for caring for someone suffering from an alcohol seizure:

  1. Gently ease the person to the floor if they are not already on a flat, safe surface. Place something soft and supportive (such as a pillow or jacket) under their head.
  2. Clear the area around the person of anything that they could hit or bump into during the seizure. If the person is wearing anything on their face (such as eyeglasses) or around their neck (such as a tie or necklace), carefully remove the item.
  3. Turn the person on his or her side. This will help the person breathe and will prevent aspiration if the person vomits.
  4. Time how long the seizure lasts. This information may be useful to medical personnel once they arrive.
  5. If the person remains unconscious after the seizure, stay with the person and monitor his or her breathing until medical help arrives.
  6. If the person wakes up after the seizure, keep them calm and reassure them that help is on the way.

After the Seizure

Following an alcohol-related seizure, the person will likely be suffering from a number of nutrient deficiencies, including deficiencies of thiamine and electrolytes. As the individual is recovering from the alcohol seizure, he or she can prevent further health problems by drinking electrolyte-rich beverages such as sports drinks and consuming foods containing thiamin, such as nuts, oats, oranges, eggs and beef.

Alcohol seizures can cause serious and potentially long-term health complications such as intracranial lesions, infection and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. To prevent long-term damage, a person who has experienced an alcohol seizure should seek medical attention immediately. Medical professionals may prescribe medications to prevent future alcohol seizures as the individual goes through alcohol detox or withdrawal.

If you or someone you love has suffered from an alcohol-related seizure, get medical attention immediately. Then consider an alcohol detox or drug rehabilitation facility to help gain control of problematic alcohol use.

Sources

Brathen, G., Ben-Menachem, E., Brodtkorb, E., Galvin, R., Garcia-Monco, J. C., Halasz, P., Hillbom, M., Leone, M. A., & Young, A. B. (2011). Alcohol-related seizures. European Handbook of Neurological Management, Vol 1, 2nd Ed., 429-436.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Seizure First Aid. https://www.cdc.gov/features/getseizuresmart/

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2015). Alcohol Overdose: The Dangers of Drinking Too Much. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/alcoholoverdosefactsheet/overdosefact.htm

Posted on January 17th, 2017

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