A MAN charged with drink driving after a breathalyser showed he was five times over the limit was later diagnosed with a bizarre medical condition that causes his stomach to brew its own beer.
It all started in 2014 when the unidentified 46-year-old male was pulled over by police under suspicion of drink driving.
A subsequent breathalyser test appeared to confirm those concerns, but the man insisted he hadn’t consumed any alcohol.
Both his family and the authorities refused to believe his claims, but the driver was adamant he had consumed no alcohol and decided to undergo tests to find out the truth.
He eventually discovered he was suffering from auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) after being diagnosed by a specialist at Richmond University Medical Center in New York in 2017.
Tests showed high levels of a fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae in his faeces.
Known to many as brewer’s yeast, this particular fungus is used by brewers to convert carbohydrates in grains into alcohol.
It’s a crucial part of the beer brewing process and, incredibly, it was happening inside the unnamed man’s gut.
Their tests revealed that basically every time the man consumed foods high in carbohydrates, his blood alcohol levels shot up.
In some instances, to as high as 400 milligrams per 100 millilitres which is the equivalent of 11 times the drink-drive limit.
The man felt the effects too, telling medics he had experienced mental fogginess, memory loss and some dizziness in recent years.
Medical experts concluded that the condition was caused by a course of antibiotics he undertook back in 2011 after suffering a thumb injury.
Dr Fahad Malik, a gastroenterologist at Richmond University, believes the drugs prescribed disrupted the patient's delicate balance of gut microbes, resulting in the rapid growth of the fungus S. cerevisiae, normally present in low levels in the gut.
While cases of Auto-brewery syndrome have previously been reported among people suffering gut disorders such as Crohn's disease, this case is the first to occur as a result of antibiotic use and is one of only five cases reported in the past 30 years.
Previously misdiagnosed as depression, the man involved in the case study was forced to give up his job as a result of the condition.
However, once identified, doctors were able to prescribe probiotics and anti-fungal medication alongside a strict low-carbohydrate diet to combat the problem.
The man has been been symptom-free for almost two years.
Dr Malik told New Scientist: “He was extremely happy when he started to recover, because for years, no one believed him.
“The police, doctors, nurses and even his family told him he wasn't telling the truth, that he must be a closet-drinker.
“Now he is off antidepressants, he's back at work and he's finally getting on with his life.”