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Woman, 50, gets drunk without consuming alcohol- the curious case of auto-brewery syndrome

ByVrinda Jain
Jun 05, 2024 01:23 PM IST

While she smelled of alcohol, felt dizzy, weak and even passed out due to it, the surprising thing was that she didn't consume even a drop of alcohol.

A 50-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency room seven times in the past two years due to "alcohol intoxication". While she smelled of alcohol, felt dizzy, weak and even passed out due to it, the surprising thing was that she didn't consume even a drop of alcohol. So, what really happened to her? According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the woman has auto-brewery syndrome, a condition that "involves endogenous alcohol fermentation by fungi in the gut."

The woman was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome. (Unsplash)

After the doctors diagnosed her with this syndrome, they suggested a low-carbohydrate diet to her. After completing a month of medication and a low-carbohydrate diet, her symptoms resolved and remained absent for four months. However, when she increased her carbohydrate consumption, her symptoms were back. (Also Read: World's first head transplant with robotic surgeons? Startup claims 'revolutionary' procedure)

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" One month after increasing carbohydrate intake, she had recurrence of slurred speech and drowsiness, which led to a fall. She was reassessed in the gastroenterology clinic, restarted on fluconazole, advised to revert to the low-carbohydrate diet, and referred to our infectious diseases clinic. After two weeks of fluconazole and a low-carbohydrate diet, her symptoms resolved," reported Canadian Medical Association Journal

Dr. Rahel Zewude, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, told CNN that the "woman's alcohol levels could range between 30 millimoles per litre and 62 millimoles per litre — below two millimoles per litre is normal."

Barbara Cordell, president of an advocacy association called Auto-Brewery Syndrome Information and Research, informed CNN that alcohol levels of up to 62 millimoles per litre are exceptionally high and would be considered life-threatening. (Also Read: Vampire facial fail: 3 women get HIV through cosmetic needles at US salon)

"I know of over 300 people diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome, and we have over 800 patients and caregivers in our private Facebook support group. Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how these people can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking," said Cordell to CNN.

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