A North Carolina man was pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving but police didn’t believe him when he told them he hadn’t been drinking
Police wanted him to take a breathalyzer test but the man refused and was taken to hospital, where his initial blood alcohol level was found to be 0.2% — about 2.5 times the legal limit and the equivalent of consuming 10 drinks an hour, according to the report.
The man, said to be in his 40’s insisted he hadn’t taken any alcohol but doctors didn’t believe him either.
Finally, researchers at the Richmond University Medical Center in New York eventually discovered that the man was telling the truth. He hadn’t been drinking, but there was yeast in his gut that was likely converting carbohydrates in the food he ate to alcohol.
In other words, the man’s body was brewing beer.
The findings were reported in a study in BMJ Open Gastroenterology. The man, whose identity has not been revealed, had a rarely diagnosed medical condition called auto-brewery system (ABS), also known as gut fermentation syndrome.
“These patients have the exact same implications of alcoholism: the smell, the breath, drowsiness, gait changes,” Fahad Malik, the study’s lead author and the chief internal medicine resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told CNN. “They will present as someone who’s intoxicated by alcohol, but the only difference here is that these patients can be treated by antifungal medications.”
Early signs of gut fermentation syndrome can include mood changes, delirium and brain fog, the researchers wrote, even before a patient starts exhibiting symptoms of alcohol inebriation.
The study says more research should be done on the use of probiotics as a treatment for the condition.
“This is a condition that is treatable with dietary modifications, appropriate antifungal therapy, and possibly probiotics,” the researchers wrote. “The use of probiotics and faecal microbiota transplantation could be considered for future studies.”