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This Canadian woman has been getting drunk without consuming alcohol for over two years! Here’s how

This Canadian woman has been getting drunk without consuming alcohol for over two years! Here’s how
Clubs are definitely a jolly fun way to spend your one weekend day off! You just have to get over the putrid and persistent alcohol stench, barrage of obnoxious drunk dancers accidentally swatting you once in a while, deafeningly loud music numbing your ears for a few days — to name an easy few. But golly gee, does it get absolutely bonkers once you get past these things! Bottoms up, I say (ruefully)!

If you’re smelling sarcasm, you’d be right on the money. While the drunk people and loud music can be excused, the sky-high prices of alcohol remains a ridiculous affair — no wonder many choose to “pre-game” before entering pubs. But if you’re one particular individual from Canada, chances are that this may not be an issue for you at all.
Drunk (medical) visits
In an extraordinary series of events encapsulated in a recent medical journal, a 50-year-old Canadian woman repeatedly found herself in the emergency room with symptoms of alcohol intoxication. This included excessive sleepiness, slurred speech, and the unmistakable scent of alcohol on her breath. Yet, the report noted that she hadn't consumed a single drop of liquor.

As per the report, this unfortunate woman made seven visits to the emergency department over two years, with each instance following a disturbingly familiar pattern. She would suddenly fall asleep while performing daily activities, such as getting ready for work or preparing meals, rendering her unable to work for weeks at a time and significantly diminishing her appetite.

Each of these hospital visits culminated in a diagnosis of alcohol intoxication. This was a problem because the woman explained that she had begun to abstain from alcohol, and her family vehemently confirmed the same. Thus, the recurring diagnosis of alcohol intoxication baffled her doctors.
Beer belly, literally!
However, there was one clue as to what might have been going on. As per her medical history, for five years prior to the onset of these episodes, the woman had suffered from recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which required repeated courses of antibiotics.

The doctors believe that these antibiotics, while effective against her UTIs, inadvertently disrupted the balance of her gut microbiome, eradicating beneficial bacteria and allowing alcohol-producing fungi to flourish. The new cocktail of stomach microbes gave her a rare and perplexing condition known as auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), where her gut microbes were essentially brewing their own alcohol and intoxicating her from within.

With less than 100 recorded cases, ABS occurs when certain fungi, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewer's yeast) and Candida albicans, proliferate and ferment dietary carbohydrates into alcohol. Individuals with high blood sugar and a genetic predisposition towards poor alcohol metabolism are particularly susceptible.

In this woman's case, a move to a prescribed low-carb diet, began to alleviate her symptoms. However, the symptoms returned when she resumed a higher carbohydrate intake, confirming the diagnosis. A combination of antifungal medication, probiotics to restore her gut's beneficial bacteria, and a targeted approach using narrow-spectrum antibiotics for her UTIs brought her relief. Months later, the woman was symptom-free.

This case underscores the profound social, legal, and medical implications of ABS. The patient's journey through numerous emergency visits, misdiagnoses, and mental health evaluations highlights the critical need for heightened awareness and understanding of this rare syndrome.

This report has been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and can be accessed here.

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