US Man Gets Mysteriously Drunk Despite Staying Sober

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By Roshni Mahesh | September 21, 2013 1:12 PM EST

A 61-year-old man in the US looks drunk all the time without even when he did not drink alcohol.

The Texas-based man was going through the strange occurrence continuously for almost five years. His case and the secret behind the occurrence came to the light only in 2009, when he visited the doctor after experiencing dizziness.

A breathalyser test showed that the man was high on liquor, with an alarming 0.37 percent blood alcohol concentration. However, the man assured that he hadn't even seen alcohol the whole day, NPR reported.

Nobody at the hospital believed him and doctors dismissed the case, describing it as a case of closet drinking (a person who hides his/her drinking habits from the public by hiding it and practicing it in private).

However, Dr Barbara Cordell, dean of Nursing and Health Sciences at Panola College in Carthage, Texas and Dr Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, decided to solve the mystery. The man was locked up in a hospital room for a day and was given only carbohydrate-rich foods. Nurses recorded the man's blood alcohol concentration at regular intervals. The breathalyser detected alcohol in the man's blood, with alcohol concentration at 0.12 percent.

Cordell and McCarthy found that the man's gut was self-producing alcohol, due to a condition known as "auto-brewery syndrome" or "gut fermentation syndrome."

The doctors who published their findings in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine, recently explained that excess growth of common yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae was transforming whatever starch the man ate, like soda or pasta, into ethanol, giving him a drunken feeling.

The researchers told CNN that it is a very rare disorder, with very few cases across the globe. "This is a rare syndrome but should be recognized because of the social implications such as loss of job, relationship difficulties, stigma, and even possible arrest and incarceration," the authors wrote in their paper.

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