It may be the longest hangover in the history of binge beer drinking. When a 37-year old man walked into a hospital emergency room in Glasgow, Scotland last October complaining of "wavy" vision and a non-stop headache that had lasted four weeks, doctors were at first stumped, the British journal The Lancet reported Friday.
The unnamed patient "had no history of head injury or loss of consciousness; his past medical record was unremarkable, and he was taking no medications," Zia Carrim and two other physicians from Southern General Hospital said in a case report.
Body temperature and blood pressure were both normal, and a neurological exam scanned negative. But when an eye specialist was called in, the fog began to clear, at least for the doctors. The patient, said the ophthalmologist, had swollen optical discs, greatly enlarged blind spots and what eye doctors call "flame haemorrhages," or bleeding nerve fibres.
"We sought a more detailed history" from the patient, noted Zia drly. That is when the man revealed he had consumed some 60 pints -- roughly 35 litres -- of beer over a four day period, following a domestic crisis.
Severe dehydration caused the alcohol, the doctors guessed, had led to a rare condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). A scan of the brain's blood vessels confirmed the diagnosis.
CVST -- which can cause seizures, impaired consciousness, loss of vision and neurological damage -- strikes three or four people per million, mainly children, every year in Britain. The cause is generally unknown.
It took more than six months of long-term blood-thinning treatment to restore the man's normal vision -- and to get rid of the headache, the doctors reported.