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Can laughing excessively cause seizures?

Jan 01, 2008 - 11 comments

It was 5 minutes before the New Year, 2008.
We were watching and waiting for the ball to drop in New York with D Clark.
Tim was drinking for a few hours at 1/hour.
He was sitting at the food table eating drinking and laughing.  
His mouth was absolutely empty.  
He was talking to a small group about D Clark.
He made a crude comment about D Clark and burst into an uncontrollable laughter.
He never displayed any kind of respiratory distress.
He was right in the middle of his laugh when he passed out{head rolled backward, he stopped laughing-quietly, no choking and he turned red.)  Initially I thought that he went into respiratory arrest, maybe he did.  
Maybe it was a seizure.  
He did not stiffen-up or did not loose control of his bowel or bladder.

Tim was awake (awakened) about 1 minute after he passed out.  He did not remember a thing and began to talk and eat normally!  911 was called then cancelled.

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by delly247, Nov 08, 2008
Yhe same thing has happened to my partner twice,  laughing at a comedian on tv. He refuses to acccept it has happened and says he just passes out for a few seconds.  This is not true,  he did the same thing that Tim appears to have done.  He refuses to visit the doctor.  I hope someone replies!

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by pecknmolly, Feb 01, 2012
My husband does this same thing.  Last night he was watching funniest videos and he was laughing very hard, he began to cough, I could tell he was not aware of what was going on.  His hands began to draw closed and his face was somewhat distorted.  I grabbed his hands and began to talk to him. He opened his eyes and asked what happened.  I told him he had had one of those episodes again.  I am sure it was some type of seizure.  I used to think he just lost his breath, but it was diffently a seizure.  This has only happened once or twice a year for the last 10 years or so.  We have told doctors and they just shrug it off. Last night was the most intense one he has had.  Probably won't happen again for a long time.  Just scarry when it is taking place.   If anyone knows anything about such episodes, I would like your feed back.

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by BRIBECK, Dec 27, 2013
Very little is known about laugh induced seizures. The first official  medical case was reported this just this year (2013).
This type of seizure is not to be confused with a gelastic seizure where uncontrolled laughter occurs from a seizure.
This type of seizure is induced BY laughter. In my case it can also be induced by fear. My seizures are subtle and only last 2-3 seconds, but they make me feel insecure since I freeze and lose control. I worry that I may not be able to protect myself or others when in danger. .I am fifty years old now and luckily they have not progressed in duration or intensity. I am pretty certain my first one occurred during my college years in my twenties. I just started researching this today, but there is little known.

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by HRSegovia, Dec 06, 2014
I have the same thing.  My doctor just says I have a sensitive vasovagal mechanism (which made sense), until recently I had an episode so powerful, I could not help but feel it was a seizure.  My wife said I looked like I was dead.

When others witness an episode:
- They see me laugh and then slowly go to sleep.
- There is no shaking reported.
- Within seconds, I am back up.

When I experience it:
- all goes white
- while I am lucid (aware of what is happening to me), I am not aware of my surroundings, not in control, and unable to focus on any particular thought or sensation.
- audio seems looped, distant, and overdriven (as though through a loud, skipping record-player on a blown speaker).
- my body feels as though it is rippling in a circle - perhaps a vortex centered on my chest - physical waves throughout my body that makes me feel I am shaking violently or rotating my upper body at the abdomen.
- the episode lasts for a few seconds and then I return with some confusion and a little docile for a few minutes.
- it seems to last over a minute.

When my wife witnessed it, she said I went down quick, I hit my head on two walls and then looked like I was dead - eyes open.  I was red all over and unresponsive.  I did not convulse.  I didn't even move.  This lasted a few seconds.

From my perspective, I laughed and coughed and an intense pressure filled my head.  I vaguely remember a thump on the back of my head, but it was muted and almost non-existant.  After that it was though I was asleep - dreaming - completely non-lucid and only recalled in retrospect - but the intense pressure always remained.  As I recovered and became aware, the fear and confusion was intense.  My body felt as though it were thrashing all over.  I could vaguely hear my wife shouting (though I was inches from her), "Babe!  Babe!" and I tried to respond, but it felt as though the word was slurred if intelligible at all, "Wha? What?  What?"  When I was finally sitting up and aware something was wrong, I could not focus on anything, could not compose a coherent thought, could not even develop a simple answer to what my wife was asking, "Are you OK?" - as if my "What" response was mere automatism and not through conscious effort.  Much like when one wakes from sleep, I had no inkling as to how long I was out (it was only a few seconds).  After recovering, it took at least ten minutes for the tingling sensation, internal vibrations, and fear to go away.

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by MSiders, Mar 01, 2015
About a year ago my husband started having a strange feeling in his face when he laughed. Laughed at a movie, laughed with our children or just laughed in general with each other. It seemed like he grabbed his chest to me when this would happen but he advises he grabs his right arm. It then moved into sort of a jerking movement in his face and simulation feelings in his leg and arm. He would grab his elbow and his face to settle it down and sit quietly and it worked. We went to the family doc and we first did heart test. Some abnormality but nothing that stood out, as the doctor felt he would be better served seeing a neurologist. My husbands father died of a heart attack at 36 years old.

We seen a neurologist  she completed a MRI and nothing stood-out.
She advised she felt it would be best if my husband went to the MAYO Clinic.
While waiting for the referral he had his first episode where we were at a restaurant and he was goofing around with our young daughters explaining the three stooges. Upon starting to laugh his had began to move back and forth slowly and his arms were waving slowly in the air. He was sitting in a booth so I did not see his legs. This was the first time he lost control of his arms, head, eyes were blinking.( Afterwards 2-3 minutes?)we were all in shock. He came right to and his arms dropped to the table. WTH was that I asked him. He advised this was the feeling he gets when he laughs but he could not stop the feeling. He stated he was trying to grab his elbow but his hand could not grab it. Why his arms were slowing waving. He stated his arms would not go where we wanted them. He had another one of these episodes after we returned home, where he felt like he was not breathing. Now  check his breathing and if he is not breathing I tell him too. He can hear me. These continued to happen here and there.

In Sept 2014, we went to Mayo and cataplexy was ruled out. Sleep disorder of some sort was not as he has untreated sleep apnea. After a one hour test on video my husband had no episode but was so sleep deprived he could not stay awake and when he fell a sleep he quit breathing to many times so it scared the lady and the test ended.  While at the mayo in the hotel room he had his first very scary episode. It started out as usual were his legs start to give his face moves his arms move. He closed his eyes, was perfectly still and did not breathe. I have to tell him to breath as he says he can hear me so I did. He came to.

In October 2014, we went to Mayo for epilepsy testing. We were there for five days with only very minor episodes. His episodes are happiness and laughter induced. So this environment, strapped to bed, hang from ceiling to use restroom, away from family, was not going to keep us in the funniest of moods but we tried. Crapy part is he can have several at home with our family but minor there. A small episode was captured where he moved to his right side and was waving a bit. However these portions did not look to fire in the epileptic portion of the brain. But epilepsy could not be ruled out since he did not have a full episode.

We came home, my husband had a sleep study and a special mouth piece built. He also has a sinus surgery because he had an 80% blockage. He is healed from this and breathing better.  He still does not sleep well, wakes up multi times, falls asleep watching TV. However if you ask me I would have thought he was doing better as I can hear him breath not snore:)

This weekend he has probably had about 6-7 minor episodes and he has them frequently when our family is together and we laugh and smile. In public he does well/ok as he stays to his focus. We own a locksmith company and my husband runs the shop, he stays focused and takes care of business. However, when the guys start to goof off he usually will find his way out of the area for some reason so he does not go down or have an episode in front of his employees. He can usually feel it coming on and control it. However, now its a toss up. He can either stop it or he goes full into head bobbing legs bobbing. Sometimes he goes to the ground or we go to the ground, others he recoups right away just getting the start of the feeling and his head waving.  On a few occasions lately I see him holding his head in the back right and front left. He has had some confusion briefly but comes right to. He usually sleeps afterwards.

Now my husband who is normally the fun, happy, goof ball of the family often suppresses himself. When he tries to have fun and let loose we have multi episodes. He has become more comfortable at home and are children are no longer scared to death. It still scares everyone but we know he has always survived them.

We are supposed to have psyconeurological testing at the University of Nebraska this week.

Any thoughts, suggestions or have you seen any other laughter cases?

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by trosell2010, Jan 07, 2016
Wow. I can't believe that I came across others who are experiencing what I have been for the past year and a half. Had 2 MRI, been to two neurologist and no answers. HRSegovia what you described is exactly what I experience, except that the last time there was shaking for less than 3 seconds. When I came to I even felt myself shaking. I didn't know where I was for about 15 seconds it took me to figure out what had happened. I will keep any eye out to see if anyone else has found a solution except to not laugh extremely hard. Mine seem to get progressively worse as at first I would only drop my head, continue to laugh but everything seemed distance, I have no control of my body at all and my head was buzzing. But the last two I have actually passed out and fell out of the chair. Thank you all for sharing.

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by Jbsmegjv, Feb 08, 2016
My father is experiencing the same things posted in this thread. He has had four episodes since November. Does anyone know of a cause or has a diagnosis?

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by Smilez412, Feb 28, 2016
I'm not sure if what I experience is the same as you all but, every time that I laugh hard for whatever reason I find myself going into a trans-like state. I can feel my head bobbing back and forth and my hands go up as if I'm trying to catch myself. I can see, I can somewhat hear but mostly I'm trying to concentrate on how to snap out of this that I'm in. It feels like I'm stuck for a few mins but in reality it's only seconds. I typically have a slight headache after this episode. I can't find anything to even compare it to buy maybe a mild seizure but not the same as the gelastic seizures.

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by bgkk75s, May 23, 2016
You have been describing what I've experienced.  It's happened about a half dozen times where I start laughing and can't catch my breath.  The first time I tried to go outside to catch my breath, I stood up, took two steps and hit the floor.  My friends picked me up and got me settled, but since we were in a remote hunting camp, there was nothing they could do.  I remember it happening again about 4 years ago when socializing with friends. I was sitting in a bar stool and started laughing.  After a few seconds, I came to and everyone in the room was looking at me asking if I was OK.  I was a bit embarrassed, but fine.  Fast forward to this weekend and my wife witnessed it happen during dinner on Friday.  We were laughing with friends and it happened.  She was a bit scared as I started laughing and couldn't catch my breath.  I was out as I stared at her with a blank look on my face and a tremble.  When it happened again on Saturday night she really got spooked. I was standing next to a friend sharing a video on my phone. I started laughing and felt I couldn't catch my breath.  I sat back down and lost focus on anything around me.  They said it was only a total of 20-30 seconds from start to finish where I had a strange look on my face as my body had tremors.  In every case that I can remember, I had consumed alcohol.  I'm not sure if that only made me more willing to laugh or if it's just a coincidence.  What about you?  Has alcohol been present during your events?

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by limbaugh1977, Oct 25, 2016
My son is 21 yrs old.  He has been diagnosed with cp and mental retardation.  He is non verbal and has the cognitive level of an 18 month old.  He, too, has laugh induced seizures.  When his brother says something funny he will laugh so hard and it turns into a 30 second seizure.  

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by Bigwhite100, Jul 06, 2017
This has happened to me twice as well. In both cases I was laughing very hard. The first instance I was sitting in a booth so my head rolled back briefly and my friends looked puzzled and thought I was joking around. The second instance I was sitting on a bar stool looking at a funny skit on a friends cell phone laughing extremely hard again this ''time I blanked out I fell off the bat stool. One minute I was laughing the next people were standing over me asking if I was OK. I was only out a few seconds and came to immediately. On lady said I appeared to be having a seizure.

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