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Mysterious condition where people get drunk without drinking alcohol

Mysterious condition where people get drunk without drinking alcohol

It can leave people unsteady on their feet and slurring their words

If there were ever a condition to sound like a made up excuse, it would be one in which you can get drunk without a drop of alcohol touching your lips.

From those who have been dying for a drink throughout Sober October to partners who promised they wouldn't go out after work, Auto-Brewery Syndrome (ABS) could be just the defence they need.

In reality, it's actually a very real condition - even if it might sound like something that takes place in the back room of a pub.

Also known as gut fermentation syndrome (GFS), not much is known about the condition that can leave those diagnosed slurring their words and unsteady on their feet.

Its exact cause isn't properly understood, but the condition causes a rise in alcohol levels in the blood and results in the symptoms of alcohol intoxication, even when little to no alcohol has been consumed.

The impact is enough to lead to failed breathalyser tests, consequently causing potential legal trouble.

ABS increases blood alcohol levels.

For Nick Carson, 64, his symptoms appear to be spurred by meals high in carbohydrates, such as potatoes.

According to the BBC, Carson has experienced slurring his words and becoming unsteady on his feet, as well as stomach pains, bloating and tiredness.

It first occurred around 20 years ago, and he would often be sick and pass out.

"I did not have a clue what was happening." Carson said. "Six to eight hours later I would wake up like there is nothing wrong with me, very rarely feeling hungover."

The 64-year-old was finally diagnosed after multiple visits to doctors and nutritionists.

Carson's ABS appeared to be impacted by carbohydrates.

Though still not entirely understood, ABS has been used as a legal defence in drink-driving cases, with Barry Logan, executive director of the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education in Philadelphia, arguing that 'most toxicologists at this point would acknowledge that this is a real medical condition'.

He explained: "We all produce small amounts of alcohol from fermentation but in most individuals, the levels are far too small to be measured.

"If someone has ABS, they would have to be producing alcohol at a rate which exceeds what can be removed [before it gets into the blood stream]."

Carson has managed to get his ABS under control with the help of a strict diet guided by nutritionists, antifungal treatments and multivitamins, but he said it is still 'like a tightrope walk' as speculation about the condition's causes continues.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Health, Food And Drink