Matt Case - June 3rd, 2024 - 8:23am PDT 

    Woman, 50, dismissed seven times before rare condition revealed her body produces beer.


    A 50-year-old Canadian woman suffering from a potentially fatal disease was dismissed seven times by doctors, who mistakenly accused her of being drunk.

    The woman had a rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, where the body produces alcohol, leading to symptoms like slurred speech, sudden sleepiness, and blurred vision. Despite her insistent claims of not drinking, it took two years for her to be correctly diagnosed. One emergency physician even wrongly diagnosed her with a psychiatric condition, leading to her certification under the Mental Health Act, which allowed doctors to treat her against her will.

    Auto-brewery syndrome affects fewer than 100 people worldwide and causes gut microbes to convert sugar into alcohol. It can be triggered by poor diet, antibiotics, or other factors leading to a dominance of yeast and other microorganisms in the gut.

    Two years before her diagnosis, the woman began experiencing extreme daytime sleepiness, often falling asleep suddenly while doing daily tasks. Despite stopping alcohol consumption due to her religious beliefs, her symptoms persisted, leading her to visit her family physician and the ER multiple times.

    During her first ER visit, her blood alcohol level was 39 millimoles per liter (normal is less than two), but doctors discharged her, assuming she was drunk. Subsequent visits included three separate psychiatric assessments related to addiction medicine. On her seventh ER visit, auto-brewery syndrome was suggested as a diagnosis.

    A dietician recommended a low-carbohydrate diet, which alleviated her symptoms by reducing the yeast in her intestines that converted to alcohol.

    "Auto-brewery syndrome carries substantial social, legal, and medical consequences for patients and their loved ones," said Dr. Rahel Zewude from the University of Toronto, who documented the woman's case. "Awareness of this syndrome is essential for clinical diagnosis and management."

    This isn't the first documented case of this bizarre illness. Alyssa Kelsch, 26, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was diagnosed in 2018 after months of doctor visits. She exhibited symptoms like 'fruity breath', glossed-over eyes, fits of laughter, and slurred speech. Kelsch is now on anti-fungal medication to prevent her body from producing alcohol.

    Alyssa Kelsch, 26, from Salt Lake City, Utah, was also diagnosed with the condition in 2018 after months of doctors appointments and specialists visits. Pictured: The tattoo artist with glassy eyes during an episode of feeling 'drunk'