Say that you are driving home from your favorite coffeeshop in Illinois. You feel a bit odd after eating a carb-rich pastry, but nothing that impedes your ability to drive. Unfortunately, the swirling red and blue lights in your rearview mirror paint a different picture and you find yourself hit with a DUI charge. 

ABC News dives into a rare, mysterious condition known as auto-brewery syndrome. Understand how foods rich in carbohydrates can make you appear intoxicated. 

Understanding the syndrome 

The way auto-brewery syndrome works is that the gut ferments food into ethanol, which causes a blood-alcohol level increase. During this increase, a person can behave as if she or he has had one too many alcoholic beverages, slurring her or his words, becoming confused, even having the smell of alcohol on the breath. 

Currently, what triggers the symptoms of the syndrome remains a mystery. One possible explanation is that the yeast in the gastrointestinal tract metabolizes carb-rich foods into ethanol. Shifts in the body’s microbiome, found in gut bacteria, can lead to mysterious conditions like auto-brewery syndrome. 

Controlling the syndrome 

Thankfully, those with this rare condition can take steps to control it. Limiting one’s carbohydrate intake is one recommendation for managing the syndrome’s symptoms; others include exercise and taking probiotics. There are also anti-fungal medications you may want to ask your doctor about after determining whether you actually have auto-brewery syndrome. 

Do you think auto-brewery syndrome was the reason for your DUI? Get an official diagnosis from your physician, and speak with a legal professional about your next steps.