Florida Man Has a Rare Condition: Where His Body Produces Alcohol
A father of two, who previously worked as a high school teacher, was terminated from his job after being charged with drunk driving.
However, upon further investigation, officers discovered that his failed Breathalyzer test was due to an uncommon condition known as auto-brewery syndrome (ABS).
ABS is a rare medical condition in which the human body produces alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in an individual experiencing alcohol intoxication without actually consuming alcohol.
According to Mark Mongiardo, his symptoms initially surfaced in 2006 when he was employed as a high school teacher and coach in New Jersey.
— New York Post (@nypost) March 16, 2023
Allegedly, the school’s personnel lodged complaints about his alcohol scent, despite him having no alcohol consumption on the job.
Mongiardo categorically denied the accusations, stating he is a teacher and would never jeopardize his students’ well-being.
As he recounted on ABC 7, the situation was alarming, and he was unsure about the cause of his odor.
“I had pending felony charges. You know, I was facing prison time for two DWIs when I had not been drinking,” Mongiardo said.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) March 15, 2023
Fortunately, Mongiardo obtained answers after meeting with Wickremesinghe, who has keen interest in ABS since his initial encounter with it in 2014.
According to Wickremesinghe, auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) is caused by the disruption of gut flora due to antibiotics, which allow fungus and yeast to thrive.
Patients with auto-brewery syndrome
When someone with ABS consumes carbohydrates or sugar, their gut ferments alcohol, leading to potentially dangerous levels of intoxication.
Some of Wickremesinghe’s patients have registered three times the legal blood alcohol limit within two hours.
Wickremesinghe has treated 30 patients for ABS, some of whom have come from as far away as Romania.
To diagnose the condition, he requires patients to undergo a colonoscopy and an eight-hour blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test in the hospital.
The BAC test involves drinking a sugary liquid and recording BAC levels every half-hour. Health experts will stop the test immediately if the BAC level becomes positive.
Wickremesinghe treats ABS with anti-fungal medication, orally or intravenously, if necessary.
Patients must follow a strict no-carb diet for the first six weeks. A low-carb diet will then follow in the next months to lower the level of anti-fungal medication.
Wickremesinghe is about to release the most comprehensive study ever conducted on ABS using the patients he has treated.
He has discovered that 60% of ABS patients suffer from acid reflux, while 30% have anxiety or depression. He hopes his research will raise awareness of ABS in the medical community.
As for Mongiardo, the police officers ultimately dismissed his charges of driving while intoxicated. The prosecutors failed to bring the case to trial promptly.
Currently residing in Florida, Mongiardo manages his auto-brewery syndrome (ABS) by taking 30 pills daily, adhering to a low-carb diet, and testing himself with a Breathalyzer before operating a vehicle.
He shared with ABC that he is now positively emerging from this difficult experience. He is happy now to be moving forward with his life.
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