Auto-Brewery Syndrome

Overview

Type of disease: Rare Condition or Disease

Auto-brewery syndrome or gut fermentation syndrome is a condition in which ethanol is produced through endogenous fermentation by fungi or bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Patients with auto-brewery syndrome present with many of the signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication while denying an intake of alcohol and often report a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate diet.

The production of endogenous ethanol occurs in minute quantities as part of normal digestion, but when fermenting yeast or bacteria become pathogenic, extreme blood alcohol levels may result. Auto-brewery syndrome is more prevalent in patients with co-morbidities such as diabetes, obesity, and Crohn disease but can occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Several strains of fermenting yeasts and rare bacteria are identified as the pathogens. While auto-brewery syndrome is rarely diagnosed, it is probably underdiagnosed.

Auto-brewery syndrome has significant effects on a person’s life. The patient may experience side effects of vomiting, belching, chronic fatigue syndrome, dizziness, loss of coordination, disorientation, veisalgia, and irritable bowel symptoms. Chronic fatigue syndrome can result in health problems such as anxiety, depression, and poor productivity.

Because of the production of significant alcohol levels, people can test over the legal driving limit without consuming any alcohol. The randomness of intoxication episodes can result in difficulties for the patient, including injuries from falls, legal difficulties following driving citations, and strain on social relationships.

Connect. Empower. Inspire.