June 2024

Her Gut Was Producing Alcohol

Via CNN  — Her breath reeked of alcohol. She was dizzy, disoriented and weak, so much so that one day she passed out and hit her head on a kitchen counter while making lunch for her school-age children.

Yet not a drop of liquor had passed her lips, a fact that the 50-year-old Toronto woman and her husband told doctors for two years before someone actually believed her. “She visited her family doctor again and again and went to the emergency room seven times over two years,” said Dr. Rahel Zewude, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto…

“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,” said Cordell, who was not involved in the new case.

“Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how these people can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking.”

All of the emergency room doctors questioned the Toronto woman’s drinking habits, and she was examined by three different hospital psychiatrists who concluded that she did not meet criteria for the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder.

“She told doctors her religion does not allow drinking, and her husband verified she did not drink,” said Zewude, who treated the woman and coauthored a report on the anonymous case that publishedMonday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal….

Extremely rare and frequently unrecognized

Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is an extremely rare conditionin which bacteria and fungus in the gastrointestinal tract turn the carbohydrates in everyday food into ethanol. The first known case occurred in 1946in Africa, when a 5-year-old boy’s stomach ruptured for no known reason. An autopsy found his abdomen filled with a “frothy” fluid smelling of alcohol.

Read the article on CNN.