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The woman who urinates ALCOHOL: 61-year-old denied accusations she was an alcoholic


The woman who urinates ALCOHOL: 61-year-old denied accusations she was an alcoholic until doctors found her bizarre condition

  • Unidentified woman, from Pittsburgh, put on a waiting list for a liver transplant  
  • Had suffered cirrhosis and urine tests repeatedly came back positive for alcohol
  • Specialists eventually able to diagnose her with bladder fermentation syndrome
  • The 61-year-old is the first person in the world to have the bizarre condition 

A woman who started urinating alcohol due to a never-before-seen condition was accused of being an alcoholic by baffled doctors.

The unidentified 61-year-old was put on a waiting list for a liver transplant after suffering cirrhosis, a condition synonymous with alcohol abuse.

Two teams of doctors believed she was hiding an addiction when urine tests for the drug were repeatedly positive.

But she was eventually diagnosed with bladder fermentation syndrome after seeing  specialists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 

A woman who started urinating alcohol due to a never-before-seen condition was accused of being an alcoholic by baffled doctors (file)

A woman who started urinating alcohol due to a never-before-seen condition was accused of being an alcoholic by baffled doctors (file)

They initially thought she was a secret alcoholic but changed their mind after blood tests for metabolites of ethanol were negative. 

Further examinations found high levels of Candida glabrata, yeast naturally produced by the body, were accumulating in her bladder when she ingested sugar. 

The yeast is similar to Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a fungus known as brewer’s yeast because it’s used by beer-makers to convert carbohydrates in grains into alcohol. 

Tests showed this conversion process was taking place inside the patient’s bladder.

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WHAT IS AUTO-BREWERY SYNDROME? 

Auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) causes sufferers to feel intoxicated and unable to perform simple tasks.

It usually occurs due to yeast accumulating in the intestines after the sufferer ingests sugar. 

But for the most recent patient, yeast had accumulated in her bladder. 

The syndrome occurs when a sufferers’ yeast in their intestines grow out of control. 

ABS may also be caused by abnormal enzymes in the liver. 

Anyone of any age can suffer. 

ABS is so rare its prevalence is unknown. 

There is no cure. 

Avoiding sugar and carbohydrates may help to control symptoms, as well as frequently monitoring a sufferer’s blood alcohol content.

Source: Gundry MD 

This was taxing on her liver which was forced to try and eliminate it from her body every time she ate certain foods.

To get rid of the yeast infection, she was prescribed oral antifungals.

The case report was revealed by medics from the University of Pittsburgh’s Presbyterian Hospital in Pennsylvania.

They said it showed ‘how easy it is to overlook signals that the syndrome may be present’ in some liver transplant patients.

The medics have called for doctors to be aware of the condition so patients are not wrongly labelled alcoholics.

Writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, the medics said: ‘Acquiring all of the data necessary to evaluate a transplant candidate is complicated because of the high stakes, time constraints, and workload of the persons acquiring the data. 

‘Proper processing of data is even more difficult— it is all too easy to order alcohol monitoring tests inconsistently, overlook discrepancies in the results, and allow bias to enter and persist in the decision-making process.

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‘Standardized guidelines for abstinence monitoring laboratory interpretation are needed.’

While the woman is the first to have bladder fermentation syndrome, a handful of people around the world have a similar condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, which occurs in the gut.

Last October,it was reported a man had been charged by police for drink driving due to the extremely rare condition.

The unidentified 46-year-old was pulled over in 2014 and a breathalyser showed he was five times over the drink-drive limit. 

He maintained he hadn’t consumed anything alcoholic, but neither the police nor his family believed him.

A 46-year-old man in the US is one of only five people in the world to have been diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome (file)

A 46-year-old man in the US is one of only five people in the world to have been diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome (file)

The man was eventually diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) in 2017. He was found to have high levels of a fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae in his faeces. 

Every time he consumed carbohydrate-packed foods his blood alcohol level shot up, sometimes to as high as 400 milligrams per 100 millilitres – 11 times the drink-drive limit.

It is thought that the condition was triggered by a course of antibiotics that he was prescribed in 2011 for a thumb injury.

He told medics he had experienced mental fogginess, dizziness and memory loss since the injury.

The symptoms, which were repeatedly misdiagnosed as depression, forced him to give up his job. 

Dr Fahad Malik, a gastroenterologist at Richmond University who treated the man, believes the drugs disrupted the patient’s balance of gut microbes.

This, he said, most likely caused the rapid growth of the fungus S. cerevisiae, which is normally present in low levels in the gut.

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