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Avatar universal

Why is alcohol an instant hangover for me?

Starting around two years ago, I noticed that alcohol doesn't get me drunk, or even tipsy -- it just gives me body aches, headaches and fatigue.  No matter how small the amount.  At first I thought this a side effect of the anticonvulsant I take (Keppra) -- the instructions say to avoid alcohol because very serious interactions can occur, although they never specify what those interactions are.  
A couple medical professionals I talked to about it said that it's because Keppra increases the level of enzymes present in my liver, thereby speeding up my liver's metabolic rate.  So my body just skips the drunkenness stage altogether.  
But last month I started seeing a new neurologist, who said that that is neither a Keppra thing nor an epilepsy thing, and in fact, he has no idea what it's about.  So I'm back to square one.
I quit drinking almost two years ago because it just hasn't been worth it, but I still want to know why it's happening.  What if it's a symptom of something more serious?  Has anyone else heard of this?
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Clarification: My neurologist did back up his claim that it's not a Keppra thing by explaining that Keppra is processed through the kidneys, not the liver.
And two neurologists now have told me it's okay to drink, provided that I never get drunk (because that does lower your seizure threshold).  My current one said that I if I do drink, I need to precede and follow every alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one.  Drinking water and alcohol in a 2:1 ratio was already standard next-day hangover prevention procedure for me when I started noticing these symptoms, and yeah -- it hasn't been enough at all.  It takes more like a whole day's worth of water for me to not be in pain from one alcoholic drink.  
363281 tn?1590104173
Hello~It seems to me you have a type of allergy to alcohol, I would stop it completely, it isn't worth feeling sick over.
Thanks for weighing in!  I looked into it, and I don't think it's an allergy.  I don't have most of the symptoms listed here, and it still wouldn't explain the body aches or fatigue: http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/alcohol#Overview1
My latest theory is that it has something to do with dehydration, because it feels very similar to that -- I'm wondering if maybe dehydration is a Keppra side effect, although so far I'm not seeing much information to support that.
Yes, it could be related to dehydration, I never realised how many symptoms it can cause. I would try increasing your water in take and seeing how you feel, it might do the trick.
1530171 tn?1448129593
There are neurologists who will say avoid alcohol consumption all together in such cases like yours.
Obviously when taking Keppra for epilepsy, the brain being already dysregulated and misfiring,
does NOT need any additional load of contributing factors like:
a. Enhanced Keppra side-effects.
b. Alcohol. It is a poison. High School Health 101.
On an empty stomach, 20% reaches the brain within one minute!
c. Acetaldehyde. A toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism which is a known causative factor in hangover and very pertinent to you! Please read on for additional key details.

You should look into ruling out Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) deficiency.
ALDH2 action has to do with keeping low blood levels
of Acetaldehyde during alcohol metabolism.
If you have a ALDH2*2 gene mutation, in the event you are homozygous ( having inherited a mutated copy from
each of your parents), you will have almost no ALDH2 activity!
In the event you are heterozygous ( having inherited a mutated copy from one parent only ) you will have decreased Acetaldehyde clearing activity.
The amount of Acetaldehyde in your blood, in such a case, could be 600% higher than people without the mutation.
Please look as well into the possibility of this being also part of the etiology in your epileptic condition.
If you had/have a significant yeast/fungal overgrowth imbalance (mainly from carb/sugar consumption, antibiotics, stress etc.) your body could be producing its own alcohol  (auto-brewery syndrome) resulting in the same effects as consuming alcohol.
Left unchecked for prolonged periods of time, specially with an ADLH2*2 mutation,  consequences would be alarming.
I doubt your doctors will help you with this, unless they are very open and holistic-minded.
Alternatively, you can seek a reputable Functional Medicine Practitioner.
One very promising approach with a high degree of success in treating epilepsy is the Ketogenic diet.

I hope this helps, however, please note that my comments are not intended to replace medical advice.

Best wishes,

That got terrifying when I read about how an ALDH2 deficiency increases the risk for various types of cancer.  

I do seem to be prone to yeast infections sometimes (it hasn't happened in over six years, but I once had at least three yeast infections over the course of one summer).  
Is there a test for this mutation?  I asked Google, and the answer seems to be whether or not you get the Asian Glow when you drink (pretty sure I don't).  Is there another way to rule it out?
I also found this article, which suggested I stay away from yogurt, too: http://www.science20.com/news_articles/aldh2_enzyme_not_working_beware_beer_and_yogurt-153465

Which is confusing, because eating probiotic yogurt is one of the things I've always been told to do in order to prevent yeast infections . . .
You can look into a product called Acetium, which according to the manufacturer reduces your exposure to Acetaldehyde.
I cannot vouch for this,as I was given
this information from a practitioner of
Natural Medicine in Paris and have no direct experience with Acetium.
However, there's a product from the US, which came highly recommended by some health practitioners, with some research to back it up, called Essential AD2.
Just do a search.
Consider yourself fortunate, that you have come across this information on the  ALDH2*2 gene mutation and you can take steps to protect your health and lower your risk of cancer, and many other conditions associated with Acetaldehyde, should you indeed have this genetic mutation.
I use 23andme for genetic testing, and if your state/country allows it, it's one of the most inexpensive options.
If not, you can use a friend's address in a different state/country to receive and send the kit.
Oh,BTW avoid sugar like the plague
and limit carbs as much as possible.
Do consider also the ketogenic diet,
which is tough, but doable.
Being under the care of an experienced natural practitioner
would be preferred.


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