January 27, 2022

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The Bizarre, Underdiagnosed ‘Auto-Brewery Syndrome’: Brainstorm Health

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Hello and happy Friday, readers!

Let’s end the week on a truly bizarre note. Researchers writing in the journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology tell the tale of a North Carolina man with an extremely unfortunate medical condition. It’s called “auto-brewery syndrome” (ABS), or gut fermentation syndrome, and it caused him to create alcohol in his gut from plain old carbs and sugar and then act drunk.

Yes, you read that right. The 46-year-old man was pulled over for a DWI, and police and hospital personnel refused to believe him when he told them he hadn’t had a drop to drink. At one point, his blood alcohol level was 0.2, on par with a blackout for many people.

It sounds amusing until you consider the very serious ramifications: Dangerous situations when driving, awkward and alienating family interactions, troubles at one’s job just because you had a slice of pizza or drank a soda at lunch.

As it turns out, the condition started when the man was treated with antibiotics for a complex thumb injury. This altered the state of his gut microbiome and led to the peculiar condition, caused by yeast which was fermenting carbs in his stomach. It was only after seeing specialists at the Richmond University Medical Center in New York that the man was put on effective antifungal therapies to get his gut back to normal.

The thing is, this condition may actually be more common than you’d think, according to the researchers, who dubbed it “probably an underdiagnosed medical condition.”

Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, [email protected]

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