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How a Man Was Mysteriously Getting Drunk Without Drinking a Drop of Alcohol


Thought he was a "closet drinker."

A Texas man went to the hospital complaining of feeling drunk -- but he hadn't imbibed any alcohol.

He had, however, been eating carbs.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of yeast used in beer, wine and bread making, was discovered in a man's system, making him drunk without actually consuming alcohol. (Image via Wikimedia)

It turns out the 61-year-old had "auto-brewery syndrome," or "gut fermentation syndrome," described as a condition where yeast is present in the stomach and ferments carbohydrates into ethanol. This alcohol product then enters the blood stream and causes the person to feel drunk.

At some points, the patient's blood alcohol registered as high as 0.33 to 0.40 -- the legal limit in the U.S. is .08 percent.

A case study by Barbara Cordell and Justin McCarthy from Panola College published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine in July reported that physicians, not knowing someone could get drunk without drinking alcohol, thought he was a "closet drinker."

Gastroenterologists eventually did a complete survey of the patient's gut, where in stool samples they identified a "rare budding yeast" and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, another yeast species. Once it was confirmed this yeast and ingested carbohydrates were fermenting into alcohol, the man received an anti-fungal treatment and was put on a no-carbohydrate diet for six weeks.

This cured him.

"This is a rare syndrome but should be recognized because of the social implications such as loss of job, relationship difficulties, stigma, and even possible arrest and incarceration," the study authors stated. "It would behoove health care providers to listen more carefully to the intoxicated patient who denies ingesting alcohol."

A study in 2000, published in Medical Science Law said using the syndrome as a defense in a drunk driving case, however, "lacks merit."

Featured image via Shutterstock.com.

(H/T: Medical Daily)



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