Some people can get drunk without a drop of alcohol

A curious medical condition, auto-brewery or gut-fermentation syndrome, leaves people who haven't touched a lick of alcohol drunk.

The condition has been spotted in both men and women and while it is more likely to occur in people with pre existing health conditions like diabetes, Crohn's disease or obesity, it can also occur in healthy people.

The condition is very rare with only a handful of cases in the last few decades, but it can cause big problems in the lives of sufferers.

In 2015 a New York woman was arrested for drink-driving, but later avoided all charges by claiming the condition as the reason she was intoxicated four times over the legal limit.

Speaking at the time Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University, said to the Associated Press: "At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card."

"But it's not that easy. Courts tend to be sceptical of such claims. You have to be able to document the syndrome through recognized testing."

What causes auto-brewery syndrome and what are it's symptoms?

Auto-brewery syndrome is caused by your body turning carbohydrates – sugary and starchy foods – into alcohol.

The carbohydrates ferment in the gut, giving the condition its alternative name of gut fermentation syndrome.

The fermentation can take place in your intestines or your gut, and is often caused by too much yeast.

As well as making people drunk when they haven't been drinking, it can also make people who have only drunk a small amount considerably more drunk than expected and can, according to Healthline, include the following symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • disorientation
  • headache pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dehydration
  • dry mouth
  • burping or belching
  • fatigue
  • memory and concentration problems
  • mood changes

Generally speaking the condition is more a sign of another condition or imbalance in the body, rather than a stand-alone illness and you cannot be born with it.

As well as being a complication of other conditions, Healthline also note it could be caused by the following factors:

  • poor nutrition
  • antibiotics
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • diabetes
  • low immune system

How do you get rid of auto-brewery syndrome?

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The condition, which can also happen in children, is regarded as treatable and is approached in a similar way to alcohol consumption.

Tests will then confirm the presence of the kinds of bacteria and fungi that could cause internal fermentation and medication such as anti-fungals can be prescribed.

It is likely sufferers would be placed on a specific diet of low carbohydrates and high protein in order to avoid the auto-brewery symptoms, as well not drinking alcohol.

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