A 61-year-old Texas man developed an infection in his gut that reportedly turned the sugars and starches he ate into ethanol, getting him drunk.
“He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime,” Barabara Cordell, the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, told NPR’s The Salt. “His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyzer.”
The condition is known as gut fermentation syndrome, or Auto-Brewery Syndrome. The man showed up at the hospital reporting dizziness and with a blood alcohol level of 0.37 — enough to kill a person.
That’s according to the report from the International Journal of Clinical Medicine. He was likely infected with the yeast from something he ate or drank — which could have been compounded by the fact he dabbled in home-brewing and likely had plenty of live yeast around the house.
This isn’t the first time this syndrome has shown up — it’s been seen a few dozen times under different names. That doesn’t mean you have to fear the yeast in your home brew kit. Nor should you swallow it in hopes of making your own gut-brew.
The yeast will just slip through the intestines of healthy people without lodging in there. Each case seems to follow a round of antibiotics, which kills off the local, healthy bacteria leaving a space for the yeast to grow.
Now, that’s a beer gut.
Thanks to NPR for pointing out the case study. You can find more on it there.
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