Dr. Barbara Cordell, the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a Lubbock gastroenterologist, published a study in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine detailing how the man's stomach was found to be producing alcohol from food, keeping his blood alcohol content consistently high, CNN reported Friday.
The study authors said the man's doctors were unaware of Gut Fermentation Syndrome and believed for a time that he had been sneaking drinks.
"The physicians were not aware of any way that a person could be intoxicated without ingesting alcohol and therefore believed he must be a 'closet drinker,'" the paper said.
"Only a few cases have been reported in the last three decades," the authors wrote.
"The underlying mechanism is thought to be an overgrowth of yeast in the gut whereby the yeast ferments carbohydrates into ethanol," they wrote.
The doctors said the man was treated with anti-fungal medication and his stomach stopped producing alcohol.
"This is a rare syndrome but should be recognized because of the social implications such as loss of job, relationship difficulties, stigma, and even possible arrest and incarceration," the authors write.