A U.K. man was shocked to discover that he had been getting drunk from simply eating carbohydrate-heavy foods like chips and mashed potatoes.
Nick Hess said at first he had no idea what was happening to him. “It was weird, I’d eat some carbs and all of a sudden I was goofy, vulgar,” he said. He would suffer from random episodes of vomiting, stomach pains and headaches. “Every day for a year I would wake up and vomit. Sometimes it would come on over the course of a few days, sometimes it was just like ‘bam! I’m drunk.’”
Soon, the people around him began to notice his strange behavior. He insisted that he hadn’t consumed any alcohol, but even his wife didn’t believe him and often searched the house for bottles of booze he might have been hiding. “I thought everyone was just giving me a rough time, until my wife filmed me and then I saw it — I looked drunk.”
It turned out, Hess had been suffering from Auto-brewery syndrome, a rare condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the stomach that turns carbohydrates into alcohol.
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Barbara Cordell, head of nursing and health sciences at Texas’ Panola College, has spent years investigating the condition ever since a friend of hers began showing strange symptoms similar to Hess’.
Cordell said while observing her friend, she sat around a table with him and his wife, and drank wine with them. After consuming the same amount of wine, they all took a breathalyzer test. Cordell said her friend’s blood alcohol level was three times the level of hers and his wife’s. “It was so mysterious, just completely baffling,” she said.
Hess said that he spent time in the hospital for treatment, where still-suspicious doctors gave him a carb-heavy meal that caused his blood alcohol level to skyrocket to a level equivalent of seven straight shots of whiskey.
Now, Hess said his condition is not nearly as bad as it once was. “I have my wife to thank for that,” he said. “She carried on searching for an answer when I was ready to give up. I’m so grateful to her.”