A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyzer test. And sure enough, the man’s blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.
There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol that day.
Other medical professionals chalked up the man’s problem to “closet drinking.” But Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.
So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.
Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.
The infection with yeast along with the consumption of starch caused fermentation of the sugars into ethanol which was then absorbed into the blood. This “auto-brewery syndrome” case was published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine. It’s not the first time this has been recognized in the medical literature. I found several citations in Pub Med. But they are all individual cases since it is so rare.
Antifungal medication will cure this.
*Someone did send me this story at another link but this was the complete article. Sorry, I have lost the message. But thanks for the heads up.