Nick Hess spent several years of his life accidentally getting drunk.
A 34-year-old British man, Hess suffers from auto-brewery syndrome. People with this condition have an abundance of yeast in their stomachs, specifically, a yeast commonly called Brewer’s Yeast. When ingesting carbohydrates, their stomachs convert the food into alcohol, resulting in blood alcohol content spikes and loved ones fearing alcoholism.
Hess began presenting symptoms of rapid-onset, random drunkenness in 2010 and went frustratingly undiagnosed until last year. When Dr. Anup Kanodia finally gave Hess the answers he had been looking for, the yeast levels in his stomach were four times what is considered normal.
Auto-brewery syndrome was first discovered in Japan in the 1970s, but more recent findings have prompted a small wave of people to come forward with this condition, some using the diagnosis to contest drunk-driving charges.
A diet low in carbohydrates and sugars, as well as anti-fungal medication, keeps symptoms to a manageable level, but Hess still has one or two episodes a month.