The unidentified 61-year-old is the first person in the world to be diagnosed with urinary auto-brewery (UAB) syndrome, which is when yeast ferments urine in the bladder and turns it into alcohol, Daily Mail reported.
The fermentation process caused by the yeast (closely related to the kind used by beer makers) resulted in the woman – who also suffers from diabetes and liver cirrhosis – testing positive for a recommended liver transplant. This led doctors to believe she had a drinking problem despite her denying it.
Doctors only discovered her rare condition after specialists from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre Presbyterian Hospital tested her blood instead of urine for metabolites of ethanol – which are elements found in alcohol – and the results returned negative, Metro reported.
The fermentation in her bladder put a strain on her body, especially her liver. She was told to eliminate certain foods from her diet that produced the problematic yeast when ingested and was further prescribed oral antifungals to combat it.
Medics have since called on other practitioners to familiarise themselves with the condition so that they don’t wrongfully label patients as alcoholics, US Today reported.