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Woman diagnosed with rare condition that makes her appear drunk after visiting hospital seven times with symptoms

Woman diagnosed with rare condition that makes her appear drunk after visiting hospital seven times with symptoms

The patient recorded symptoms of slurred speech and extreme tiredness.

The struggle of trying to convince others we're not as drunk as we seem, despite it being clear as day that we are, is something we've probably come across at least once in our lives.

But for one woman, this was a reality.

Over two years, the 50-year-old visited the emergency room seven times with symptoms of slurred speech and extreme daytime tiredness.

Despite her insistence on not drinking alcohol, and confirmation from her family, she was repeatedly discharged with a diagnosis of intoxication.

However, the truth was far stranger.

DjelicS / Getty
DjelicS / Getty

The Canadian woman was suffering from a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome, causing fungi in the gut to ferment carbohydrates and in turn, producing alcohol within the body.

The symptoms of elevated blood alcohol levels and alcohol on her breath all gave the impression of intoxication.

Additionally, the patient had been on several antibiotics for recurrent urinary tract infections as well as a proton pump inhibitor to minimise the acid in her stomach.

To make matters worse, she needed up to two weeks off work after each episode and during this time she ate very little.

On the third visit, her mother was even certificated under the Mental Health Act, as the doctor had concerns due to disbelief in her claims.

Finally, on her seventh visit the emergency doctor suspected auto-brewery syndrome. She was prescribed medication to treat her symptoms and referred to a specialist.

A dietitian suggested a low-carbohydrate diet, and after combining this with a one month course of an antifungal medication, the woman’s symptoms vanished for four months.

After which, she slowly started to eat carbohydrates again, unfortunately triggering a relapse.

Jon Feingersh Photography Inc / Getty
Jon Feingersh Photography Inc / Getty

She was then advised to restart the low-carbohydrate diet which resolved her symptoms.

Writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Rahel Zewude, University of Toronto, and her co-authors, said: 'Auto-brewery syndrome carries substantial social, legal, and medical consequences for patients and their loved ones.

'Our patient had several (emergency department) visits, was assessed by internists and psychiatrists, and was certified under the Mental Health Act before receiving a diagnosis of auto-brewery syndrome, reinforcing how awareness of this syndrome is essential for clinical diagnosis and management.'

Other cases of the rare condition have been reported such as a Belgian man who was cleared of drink driving charges after doctors diagnosed him with the same syndrome.

According to scientists, the cause of auto-brewery syndrome can vary, ranging from antibiotic use to high-carb diets.

Featured Image Credit: DjelicS / Jon Feingersh Photography Inc / Getty