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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

The drunk effects of auto-brewery syndrome

Washington health care professionals may have heard about a quite rare medical condition known as auto-brewery syndrome. Relatively common in Japan but not often seen in the United States, it begins as a yeast that grows in the digestive system and converts to alcohol. Individuals who suffer from this disease are highly sensitive to carbohydrates such as mashed potatoes.

A study published in a scientific research journal in 2013 revealed how auto-brewery syndrome can affect its victims. Some of the ways this condition manifested itself in a few of the study participants is through unbalanced equilibrium, raised blood alcohol levels, irritable bowel syndrome, pain, low energy, and cognitive changes. Reports also indicate how this condition affected a woman who lived in New York. She was charged with a DUI due to the overwhelming symptoms that caused her to show signs of heavy drinking primarily in the eyes and through speech impairment.

The New York woman was fortunate to receive treatment before the condition became worse. She was able to reduce the symptoms with a medication called fluconazole and by eating healthy foods. When left untreated, victims may have to endure long-term discomfort or fatalities may occur.

A person who suffers from this type of condition could face more consequences than just indigestion or dizziness. If not diagnosed prior to a police traffic stop, driving under the influence charges could be issued without allowing the affected motorist to provide a valid explanation. An attorney who handles drunk driving could produce medical records that might result in a withdrawal of the charges by the prosecution.

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