Last month, a New York state judge dismissed driving under influence charges against a 35-year-old woman on a less common basis: a fungus in her gut boosts alcohol levels beyond legal limits.
The defense attorney said that his client had a rare condition called ‘auto-brewery syndrome,’ so it wasn’t the driver’s fault that when she was pulled over her alcohol levels were four times than the legal limit. In order to stay away from any DUI charges, New Yorkers need to keep their blood alcohol levels under the 0.08 percent limit.
A police report from 2014 showed that the woman’s alcohol levels were at 0.33 percent when charges were filed. In women, a single drink can up alcohol in their system by up to 0.045 percent.
In the weeks following the arrest, the woman constantly tested her blood alcohol levels using a breathalyzer and learned that alcohol in her system was at more than 0.2 percent without her having a single sip. The woman’s claims were confirmed by a group of nurses who tested her over the course of a day.
The syndrome is extremely rare, and research on it usually involves one to two patients because they are so hard to be found. Medical experts, however, believe that the condition is real.
Nevertheless, the mechanism behind the disorder is still unclear. There are several theories. Some experts believe that the condition is triggered whenever yeast overcomes good bacteria in a patient’s gut.
This is why whenever the patient consumes foods that yeast enjoys such as sugar and carbohydrates the yeast multiplies and produces a lot of ethyl alcohol in the process, which eventually end up into the person’s bloodstream.
Because healthy people do not have a yeast problem, they do not develop the syndrome; but if the condition is extremely rare it doesn’t mean that it is not real. A microbiology expert noted that nature has many surprises in store.
In Texas, a male patient that has the condition learned about it by accident. His nurse friend asked him to undergo some tests after noticing that the man was constantly looking drunk although he swore he had no drinking problem. The patient agreed to be kept under strict observation for a day. Tests showed that his blood alcohol levels rose out of the blue over the passing hours.
Unofficial estimates show that about one hundred patients are affected by the rare syndrome in the U.S. Hopefully, the condition is treatable, but patients are recommended to stay away from driving.
Image Source: Pixabay
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