Anecdotally I and many others I’m sure will have noticed that visual snow is affected by alcohol. Sometimes even in a positive manner. How could this be? Is alcohol good or bad for those with visual snow? Here is a simple research-backed answer and explanation.
Alcohol And Cortical Hyperexcitability
An emerging consensus according to research is that the pathophysiology of visual snow may involve “cortical hyperexcitability”: basically meaning too much excitation or not enough inhibition exists within the brain of those with visual snow.
In the brain, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter.
Consequently, for those with visual snow:
Taken together alcohol may therefore appear to temporarily improve certain symptoms of visual snow because it inhibits neurotransmitter activity.
In the long term however the body adapts to these effects. Chronic consumption of alcohol will gradually make certain receptors hypersensitive to glutamate while desensitizing the GABA ones.
In the long run therefore alcohol likely has the potential to worsen visual snow symptoms.
More To Consider
Alcohol may also have other indirect or less obvious effects on visual snow. It may for example make you more vulnerable to other environmental influences upon visual snow, or worsen comorbidities.
- Alcohol acts on other receptors including opioid, dopamine, and cannabinoid receptors, and has effects on other neurotransmitters.
- Alcohol increases oxidative stress.
Alcohol is generally going to be bad for those with visual snow because it disrupts bodily homeostasis and creates tolerance. It should ideally either be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether.