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First known case of person who urinates alcohol reported in medical journal

Urine Sample.jpg
Urine Sample. (File Photo: Wikicommons via MGN)

A woman in Pennsylvania is the first known living person to be documented with a condition where alcohol is brewed in the bladder naturally by fermented yeast, according to a case report from the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Doctors want to call the condition either 'bladder fermentation syndrome' or 'urinary auto-brewery syndrome' -- as it is similar to another extremely rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome. Auto-brewery syndrome happens when a person can become inebriated just by consuming carbohydrates without drinking any alcohol, according to a report from Science Alert.

However, this new case is the first time where the alcohol was being brewed inside a person's bladder, regardless of alcohol or carbohydrate consumption.

The condition was found after a 61-year-old woman, with "poorly controlled" diabetes, was put on a waitlist for a liver transplant. Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh assumed the woman's liver was damaged due to alcohol abuse -- and the fact that her urine tests repeatedly came back positive for alcohol.

The woman always denied using alcohol, and she did not appear to be intoxicated during her visits to the doctor.

Doctors explained their findings in the new case study:

Initially, our encounters were similar, leading our clinicians to believe that she was hiding an alcohol use disorder. However, we noted that plasma test results for ethanol and urine test results for ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate, which are the metabolites of ethanol, were negative, whereas urine test results for ethanol were positive.

The woman also has a condition called hyperglycosuria where large amounts of glucose are also found in urine. Researchers say:

These findings led us to test whether yeast colonizing in the bladder could ferment sugar to produce ethanol.

Because of the woman's unique condition, she was put back on the waitlist for a liver transplant. The report was unclear if the woman ever got the transplant.

Doctors are aware of only one other case, but it was post-mortem and in experiments run in vitro.