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What is auto-brewery syndrome?

For some people, drunk driving can be a more common problem than for others. North Carolina drivers suffering from auto-brewery, or gut fermentation, syndrome can become intoxicated without ever drinking alcohol. It may sound impossible, but this condition has been discovered in extremely rare circumstances and is being studied increasingly as more people realize their bodies may be producing alcohol in their guts.

How it works

People suffering from auto-brewery syndrome generally have another condition that causes their body to produce alcohol on its own. Most cases involve the presence of Candida yeast in the stomach. In small amounts, this microorganism is generally harmless, but large concentrations live in the guts of people suffering from gut fermentation syndrome. The yeast performs the fermentation process by converting sugar into alcohol as it is consumed. Once the alcohol is created, it can then travel to the bloodstream after being absorbed by the intestines. After it reaches the blood, the person begins to become intoxicated.

Many people with gut fermentation syndrome don't realize it is happening. Since their bodies are constantly producing alcohol, they can operate with blood alcohol levels much higher than the rest of the population. CBS News reports that Saccharomyces cerevesiae, the specific strain of yeast involved in the process, is generally harmless and even a main ingredient in some supplements. In fact, it is the same type of yeast often used in baking and brewing.

Who it affects

While the condition is extremely rare, there are some similarities between the sufferers. CBS reports that the previous use of antibiotics can sometimes trigger the condition when the healthy gut bacteria is killed off and yeast begins to thrive. Other conditions, including short gut syndrome, have also been shown to increase a person's risk of developing auto-brewery syndrome.

Possible treatments

While the condition is just beginning to be studied and no cure has been discovered yet, researchers have found possible treatments. Most doctors prescribe an anti-fungal medication to fight the yeast growth. Since the yeast feeds heavily on sugar, patients are advised to remove sugars from their diet and stick to a menu that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Patients are also not allowed to consume any alcohol.

Several drivers who have been charged with a DUI or DWI but believe that they have auto-brewery syndrome are choosing to appeal the citation with the help of an experienced attorney. If you suspect that you may have this condition as well, contact a qualified lawyer today for guidance on what steps to take in fighting the ticket. 

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