A 46-year-old man was pulled over one morning after being suspected of drunk driving. While he denied drinking too much alcohol – even refusing to take a breathalyzer – it turned out that he had a blood-alcohol level of 200 mg/dL. Medical tests showed that his blood-alcohol level was equivalent to about 10 alcoholic drinks, which is enough to induce slurred speech, impaired balance, and disorientation.
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However, no one believed that he hadn’t had any alcohol, even doctors and his family. They suspected that the man was just a closet-drinker. Fortunately, his aunt encouraged him to seek help after hearing about a similar case. After a laboratory test, it was confirmed that the man has a rare disease called auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) or “drunkenness disease.” The doctors found traces of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as “brewer’s yeast,” and Saccharomyces boulardii in his fecal matter.
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According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, the rare disease causes one to become drunk without consuming any alcohol. The auto-brewery syndrome is often triggered by eating carb-filled foods, which get fermented by bacteria in the gut. A case study conducted by researchers from Richmond University Medical Center believes that the condition is under-diagnosed. One of the reasons is that patients who suffer from ABS are often accused of drinking too much, although they haven’t drunk any alcohol.
“We believe that our patient’s symptoms were triggered by exposure to antibiotics, which resulted in a change in his gastrointestinal microbiome allowing fungal overgrowth,” the study noted.
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The doctors gave the man antifungal medication for about a month. Fortunately, his symptoms improved and he was allowed to not follow a strict carb-free diet. However, his drunken episodes flared up again within weeks of not taking antifungal therapy. Researchers at Richmond University on Staten Island put him back on antifungal therapy treatment, which involved 150 to 200 mg of oral itraconazole every day.
The man resumed a normal lifestyle after having no flare-ups a year and a half later.