An alcohol withdrawal seizure is characterized by an abnormal disruption of the electrical activity inside of the brain as the direct result of abstaining from alcohol following a period of steady use. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome generally begin within several hours after drinking a final alcoholic beverage and, in some cases, may even occur several days after final consumption. Along with a list of other physical and behavioral symptoms that occur during alcohol detox, an alcohol withdrawal seizure is considered to be among the more dangerous and most severe. Seizures may also be experienced as a result of alcohol poisoning.
An alcohol withdrawal seizure differs from other types of seizures as this particular type begins primarily in the brain stem. While other seizures originate in other parts of the brain and are caused by genetics or some other illness, this type of seizure is related to drug use, namely alcohol. Signs of alcohol withdrawal seizures may include rigid muscles, tremors and blackouts. An alcohol withdrawal seizure may range in severity from a partial seizure to a full, more dramatic seizure that affects the entire body.
In addition to alcohol withdrawal seizures, a person may also experience an increased heart beat, nausea, insomnia, mood swings and headaches. While in the midst of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, it is also common for individuals to experience shaking throughout the body, as well as clammy skin, sweating, dehydration, agitation, depression and anxiety. As with an alcohol withdrawal seizure, the more severe effects of alcohol withdrawal also include fever and hallucinations.
When a person experiences an alcohol withdrawal seizure, immediate medical attention is necessary. Treatment for alcohol withdrawal, seizures and other symptoms will be determined after a patient has been properly assessed by a medical doctor. Depending on the severity of symptoms, a patient may be treated in an outpatient setting or may require hospitalization. Treatment for alcohol withdrawal seizures often includes drugs, such as Dilantin or a benzodiazepine medication, while the patient is continuously monitored. Even without direct treatment, however, most alcohol withdrawal seizures will subside during the course of continued withdrawal.
An alcohol withdrawal seizure is more likely to be experienced by a person who has battled alcoholism for some time and has attempted alcohol detox several times before. Although seizures will eventually subside, health experts advise that they never be ignored. Even after the signs of alcohol withdrawal seizures have subsided, experts further recommend that treatment be sought for alcoholism.