According to Wikipedia, a hangover is the experience of various unpleasant physiological and psychological effects. It follows the consumption of alcohol, such as wine, beer, and distilled spirits. Hangovers can last for several hours or more than 24 hours. Imagine waking up with a hangover each morning without ever consuming alcohol.
Weird but possible. Our unpredictable bodies can surprise us with developing conditions like auto-brewery syndrome (ABS). It causes intoxication and hangovers without the consumption of alcohol. Another term for it is gut fermentation syndrome. ABS is a medical condition that converts carbohydrates in the gut to ethanol — pure alcohol. Although rarely diagnosed, it causes inebriation, complete with social and medical implications that come with alcoholism.
A hangover is not the only health concern
Health experts say ABS rarely produces high blood alcohol levels, although some severe cases exist. Improper functioning of the liver could cause accumulation of the ethanol in the system for extended periods. As with regular alcohol intoxication, ABS symptoms include disorientation, dizziness, chronic fatigue syndrome, belching and hangovers.
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The unexplained intoxication and frequent hangovers typically affect the physical and mental health of the person. They could have a particularly bad time before diagnoses, which could help them understand the condition. However, colleagues, friends and family may blame an ABS victim of drinking alcohol on the sly.
A woman in the United Kingdom reported getting vulgar and goofy immediately after eating carbs. She woke up with hangovers for an entire year, complete with nausea and vomiting.
A 46-year-old American man developed ABS. It started after three weeks of antibiotic treatment for a severe thumb injury. The active 6-foot 2-inch man weighing 230 pounds had no history of health problems. Until the thumb injury, he took no prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medications. He did not realize then that the carbohydrates he consumed almost daily brought on the intoxication and hangovers.
Other symptoms along with a hangover
For six years after the antibiotic treatment, the man underwent mental changes, memory loss and depression. His brain felt foggy, and he started showing uncharacteristic aggressiveness. His primary care physician referred him to a psychiatrist who prescribed drugs typically used to treat anxiety disorders.
Arrested for drunk driving
One day, law enforcement pulled the man over for suspected drunk driving. He refused to take a breathalyzer test, and the officers arrested him. They took him to a hospital where a blood alcohol test showed a blood alcohol concentration that exceeded to .08 limit. Hospital staff refused to believe that he had not consumed alcohol, and they discharged him after he was fully recovered.
Another significant result of the unexplained inebriation was intracranial bleeding after a fall. The fall led to his admittance to a neurosurgical facility. There, he had consultations and tests run by psychiatrists, internists, gastroenterologists and neurologists. In addition, medical personnel continued to disbelieve his persistent denials of alcohol consumption.
No light at the end of the tunnel
Low-carb diets can limit the formation of ethanol in the gut of an ABS patient. However, none of the many professionals has succeeded in restoring this poor guy’s health. Research and testing continue.