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Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Intoxication Without Drinking

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Summary: A new study describes auto-brewery syndrome, a rare condition where gut fungi ferment alcohol, leading to intoxication without drinking. A 50-year-old woman, repeatedly visiting the emergency department for unexplained alcohol intoxication symptoms, was diagnosed with this syndrome after numerous assessments.

Treatment with antifungal medication and a low-carb diet proved effective. Awareness of this syndrome is crucial for accurate diagnosis and management.

Key Facts:

  1. Auto-brewery syndrome causes alcohol intoxication through gut fermentation.
  2. Diagnosis often follows multiple medical assessments and emergency visits.
  3. Treatment includes antifungal medication and a low-carbohydrate diet.

Source: CMAJ

How can someone have alcohol intoxication without consuming alcohol? Auto-brewery syndrome, a rare condition in which gut fungi create alcohol through fermentation, is described in a case study in CMAJ.

“Auto-brewery syndrome carries substantial social, legal, and medical consequences for patients and their loved ones,” writes Dr. Rahel Zewude, University of Toronto, with coauthors.

Antifungal medication and low-carbohydrate diets are the main treatment for the condition. Credit: Neuroscience News

“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.”

Emergency department (ED), gastroenterology, and infectious disease specialists discuss the case of a 50-year-old woman who had visited the ED at least 7 times for extreme daytime sleepiness and slurred speech and, despite not drinking alcohol, had elevated blood alcohol levels and alcohol on her breath.

She had been on several antibiotic courses for recurrent urinary tract infections alongside a proton pump inhibitor.

At the seventh visit, she was given a possible diagnosis of auto-brewery syndrome, antifungal medication, and referral to a gastroenterologist.

Antifungal medication and low-carbohydrate diets are the main treatment for the condition.

About this auto-brewery syndrome and neuroscience research news

Author: Kim Barnhardt
Source: CMAJ
Contact: Kim Barnhardt – CMAJ
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: The findings will appear in CMAJ

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Schedule25 Jun 2024