Sulfite Allergy Symptoms And Diagnosis
Keep in mind the side effects of sulfite allergy that may bring some struggle when you found sensitive
Sulfites are additives utilized as a part of the creation of a few nourishments and beverages. The Romans initially found that including certain substances to nourishments makes them last longer, and aids protect their color and flavor.
Could sulfite cause sensitivity?
It is uncommon for somebody to be adversely affected by sulfite. Regardless of that, sulfite can achieve affectability like reactions in people with basic asthma and overly sensitive rhinitis. The most widely recognized response is wheezing, tight chest and cough. The rate of sulfite affectability in the overall public is thought to be under 2%, but this ascent to in the vicinity of 5 and 13% in asthmatics.
Serious responses to sulfite have been accounted, however, are extremely uncommon. A few people with urticaria, a kind of skin rash, can equally encounter intensifying of manifestations subsequent to eating sulfite.
The Food Additive That Can Trigger Asthma Symptoms
Sulfites have long been used as a food additive. They enhance flavor and preserve freshness.
These sulfur-based compounds also occur naturally in foods. For instance, they’re in fermented beverages and wines. They’re also used to increase the shelf life of some medications.
If you’re allergic to them, exposure to sulfites can cause a host of problems. They range from mild to potentially life-threatening.
This article looks at who’s affected, causes of sulfite allergies, how they’re diagnosed, where sulfites are found, and how to prevent and treat reactions.
List Of Foods For Sulfite Sensitivity
Sulfites preserve the flavor of food, prevent bacteria growth and reduce spoilage. Theyre also used to preserve medication and increase shelf life. While the Food and Drug Administration deems sulfites safe, some people are sensitive to these preservatives. You may experience hives, flushing, nasal congestion, wheezing and asthma symptoms if you have a sulfite intolerance. The best way to manage sulfite sensitivity is to limit your exposure. Find out which foods are safe and which ones to steer clear of and you’ll find it easy to manage your problem.
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How Is A Sulfite Sensitivity Diagnosed
Your doctor may suspect sensitivity to sulfites based on your medical history and aspects of your asthma. The diagnosis of sulfite sensitivity can be confirmed by a “challenge” in which sulfite is administered in solutions or capsules of increasing concentration.
The challenge is done in a step-by-step fashion. Small doses of sulfite are used, so the asthma reaction that happens is usually mild. In most cases, the initial solution dose is too small for the sulfite-sensitive person to react, so increasing doses are administered, waiting 20 to 30 minutes between steps. Once a reaction takes place, its measured by lung function studies and can be quickly reversed with an inhaled bronchodilator medication. The entire challenge procedure takes less than 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
Faq About Sulphite Allergy / Intolerance
What are sulphites?
Sulphites are an inorganic salt, and are used in the preservation of food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. As a general rule, sulphites are safe for the majority of the population. However, there are some people who react poorly when exposed to sulphites. Find out why.
What foods are high in sulphites?
Sulphite content will vary depending on product and brand, but some common sulphite-containing foods include: beer, wine, champagne, condiments, dried fruit, and shellfish. See the full list of commonly sulphited foods here.
What are the symptoms of a sulphite allergy / intolerance?
Symptoms of sulphite sensitivity include asthmatic reactions, chest congestion, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. Click here for the full list of possible symptoms.
Does wine have sulphites?
Most wine does contain sulphites. USDA organic wine cannot contain added sulphites, however, may contain naturally occurring sulphites up to 100 ppm. While this is less than many other wines, it could still lead to symptoms in someone who has a sulphite sensitivity.
Does soy sauce have sulphites?
Some soy sauce does contain sulphites. It is best to read the label to compare products to find soy sauce without sulphites. Sulphites must be listed in the ingredients if there is greater than 10 ppm of sulphites per serving.
What is a sulphite-free diet?
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Are Low Or No Sulfite Wines And Beers Available
Some wine makers and brewers in Australasia produce wines and beers which state that they do not add sulfites.
However, there are many technical reasons related to wine making and brewing, which may mean that very low levels of sulfites are still present, even when not deliberately added.
Sulfites are generally found at higher levels in cask wine than bottled wine, and are at much higher concentrations in white wine than red wine, which is preserved by natural tannins.
Risks And Side Effects
Sulfites in foods and drugs are regarded as safe for consumption by governmental regulatory agencies at concentrations up to 5,000 parts per million.
What does the research say about sulfite side effects? Since the preservatives were declared generally recognized as safe for consumption, several reviews have shown that it can actually be dangerous to humans when ingested at even low levels, well under the regulatory recommendations.
Research published in PLoS One in 2017 points out that, Due to insufficient statistical data regarding individual sensitivities and consumer intake levels, it has been difficult to identify the exact level at which these preservatives become harmful.
In addition to this, most people consume relatively high amounts of sulfites from the foods and beverages they consume. This is especially true for people eating a typical Western diet of processed foods, canned foods and alcoholic beverages.
What are the dangers of consuming sulfites? Studies are indicating that they can have a substantial impact on gut bacteria.
It makes sense sulfites are added to foods to fight bacterial overgrowth, so when these foods are consumed and processed in the small and large intestines, they continue their antibacterial effects. This impacts the good bacteria in your gut, too, and alters your microbiome.
Do sulfites cause cancer? According to an evaluation by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there is inadequate evidence of sulfite carcinogenicity.
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Management Of A Sulphite Allergy
Once the diagnosis has been made, treatment consists of avoidance of sulphite-containing foods, medicines and cosmetics. The degree to which this must be done depends on how sensitive the individual is. Some people who suffer mild sensitivity will only need to avoid foods containing the highest sulphite content others with more severe sensitivity will need to be scrupulous in avoiding even trace amounts in foods, medicines and cosmetics.
Symptoms arising from exposure to sulphites are treated according to the symptoms .
Some manufacturers produce test kits which can detect the presence of sulphites in food and drink. However, these are not 100% reliable.
If you are sensitive to sulphites, the most important thing is to know how to treat your symptoms and be able to do so when, for example, you are eating away from home.
What Are The Mechanisms For Adverse Reactions To Sulfites
Mechanisms for adverse reactions can vary, and include:
- Reflex contraction of the airways caused by inhaling sulfur dioxide. This mechanism may explain the rapid onset of symptoms when drinking liquids like beer or wine, when sulfur dioxide is inhaled during the swallowing process.
- A partial deficiency of the enzyme sulfite oxidase , in some people with asthma who react to sulfites.
- Other mechanisms yet to be fully understood.
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Sulfite Allergy And Side Effects: Should You Be Concerned
After a glass of red wine or handful of dried fruit, do you notice flushing, abdominal pain or airway constriction? If so, you may be dealing with a sulfite allergy, and youre not alone.
Sulfites are food additives that can trigger allergy symptoms in some people, especially those with asthma. Theyre also detrimental to your health for several additional reasons.
Sulfites have been linked to free radical damage in the body, which is why they make the list of potential cancer-causing foods. Plus, they mess with your gut microbiome, causing a range of other health concerns.
So are sulfites bad for you, and should you avoid them? Lets take a look at them, along with what a sulfite allergy means.
What Foods And Drinks Contain Sulphites
Sulphites are important, as they help preserve many foods and drinks and prevent them from going off. Sulphites are also used in the production of most wines, as they stop the fermentation process, which would otherwise make the wine turn sour.
Foods which may contain added sulphites include :
- pickled foods and vinegar
- dehydrated, pre-cut or peeled potatoes
- fresh or frozen prawns
- some processed meat products
EU food labelling rules require all food sold in the UK to show clearly on the label if it contains sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kg or 10mg per litre . Bear in mind that nonpre-packaged foods are also covered by this labelling requirement, but if in doubt, it is always wise to ask.
The following food additives contain sulphites the same chemicals may be found in medications or cosmetics:
- E220 Sulphur dioxide
- E150d Sulphite ammonia caramel
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Does Product Size Affect The Likelihood Of An Allergic Reaction
Product size does not affect the likelihood of a reaction however, the same brand of product may be safe to consume for one product size but not another. This is because product formulation may vary between different product sizes of the same product or produced in a different facility. Always read the ingredient lists carefully.
Drugs To Avoid With Sulfa Allergies
Sulfa antibiotics have been widely used for more than 70 years. The first antibiotic was a sulfa drug introduced in 1936. Today, these drugs include burn creams, vaginal suppositories, and eye drops as well as medications for many types of infections. If youâve had an allergic reaction to one sulfa antibiotic, youâre probably allergic to all of them.
Here are a few examples of common sulfa drugs that could cause problems:
But be sure to tell your doctor if you have a sulfa allergy before taking any of these.
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The Future Of Sulphites
With the UK food market increasingly aware of health issues as well as the growing popularity of the food-to-go market dried fruits and vegetables are gaining importance. This means that manufacturers are looking for ways to prolong shelf life and therefore the profitability of their products something that sulphites with their preservative and anti-bacterial qualities can support.
With new and sensitive techniques, manufacturers are able to effectively monitor sulphites within their products, to ensure that they maximise their product potential while conforming to legislation. The new sensitivity of techniques also ensures that consumers have the confidence that they can safely consume these products.
How Are Sulfites Listed On Food Labels
The FDA requires that any food containing more than 10 parts-per-million of sulfites must state contains sulfites on the label. Less than 10 ppm of sulfites have not been shown to cause symptoms, even in those who are allergic. There are also upper limit restrictions to the amount of sulfites wine may containin the EU its 210 ppm and in the US its 350 ppm.
When youre reading a label, be on the lookout for one of these common names for sulfites:
Potassium sulfite, potassium metabisulfite, or potassium hydrogen sulfite
Sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, or sodium sulfite
Sulfite ammonia caramel
-Calcium sulfite, calcium hydrogen sulfite
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How Are Severe Allergic Reactions Treated
Currently there is no cure for food allergies. The only option for managing the risk is to completely avoid the specific allergen. Appropriate emergency treatment for anaphylaxis includes an injection of epinephrine, which is available in an auto-injector device. Epinephrine is the only medication that can stop an allergic reaction from progressing and must be administered as soon as symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. Antihistamines, if used, should be given AFTER epinephrine has been administered. The injection must be followed by further treatment and observation in a hospital emergency room. If your allergist has diagnosed you with a food allergy and prescribed epinephrine, carry it with you all the time and know how to use it. Follow the advice of your allergist on how to use an auto-injector device.
The Rise In Food Allergy Cases
The number of people with food allergies has risen sharply over the past few decades and, although the reason is unclear, other allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis have also increased.
One theory behind the rise is that a typical child’s diet has changed considerably over the last 30 to 40 years.
Another theory is that children are increasingly growing up in “germ-free” environments. This means their immune systems may not receive sufficient early exposure to the germs needed to develop properly. This is known as the hygiene hypothesis.
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Exposure To The Sulphite Additives
For the majority of people, exposure to sulphites occurs as a result of consumption of foods and drinks to which sulphites have been added, primarily for the purpose of preservation . In addition to their preservative activity, sulphites are used to prevent the browning of foods, as bleaching agents, as dough conditioning agents, to prevent excess alkalinity of foods, as food processing aids, colour stabilizers and antioxidants . Thus, in addition to being cheap and convenient, the sulphites are extremely versatile, and their addition to many foods serves more than one purpose.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sulphite Sensitivity
The occurrence of sulphite sensitivity in the general population is thought to be less than 2%, but this rises to between 5-13% in asthmatics. Sulphite allergy is very rare, but those who are will have more extreme symptoms and reactions.
Those with asthma, eczema or hay fever may be more at risk of a sulphite sensitivity, according to Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, medical director for Bupa Health Clinics, and subsequently might experience symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or hives, which is a red, raised itchy rash.
Other symptoms include general itchiness, upset stomach, rhinitis , diarrhoea, flushing and dizziness.
Bodily reactions to sulphites can range from mild to severe, explains Dr Morrison, and can vary from person to person. There have been reported deaths, she says, though fortunately these are very rare.
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Do You Have A Sulphite Allergy Or Sensitivity Heres How To Tell
Life reporter at HuffPost UK
If you struggle with dizziness, wheezing, itching or an upset stomach within minutes of drinking wine or beer, you could have sulphite sensitivity.
Doctors have told HuffPost UK they believe most people with a sensitivity to sulphites might not even know they have it.
Dr Kenny Livingstone, a registered GP and chief medical officer of ZoomDoc, explains that reactions to sulphites are uncommon and tricky to diagnose. I suspect that most patients that have reactions to them are not even aware that these are potentially the cause, he says.
Meanwhile Dr Clare Morrison, GP and medical advisor at Medexpress, believes sulphite sensitivity is somewhat under-reported, with symptoms being blamed on other causes such as asthma.
So what is it and how do you know if you have it?
When To Get Urgent Help
If you have symptoms of sulphite sensitivity or allergy, read food labels carefully and avoid those containing sulphites.
In severe cases, sulphites can cause anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. People who experience a rash anywhere on the body, or symptoms such as swelling in the face, throat or mouth, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, should seek emergency care immediately.
For more information on sulphite allergies and sensitivities, visit the NHS website.
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What Is A Sulfite Sensitivity
Sulfites are chemicals used as preservatives to slow browning and discoloration in foods and beverages during preparation, storage and distribution. Sulfites have been used in wine making for centuries.
You can find sulfites in certain foods and beverages, as well as a variety of medications. The use of sulfites as preservatives in foods and beverages increased dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s. Due to cases of severe reactions to sulfites, a ban by the Food and Drug Administration went into effect in August, 1986. This ban prohibited use of sulfites in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Although reactions to sulfites were recognized initially with salad bars in restaurants, this has not been a source for sulfite exposure for more than three decades. Sulfites continue to be used in potatoes, shrimp, and beer/wine, and are also used in the pharmaceutical industry. Sulfites are added to many medications, including some of the medications given to treat asthma and allergic reactions.
Sulfites have been implicated as a cause of asthma symptoms that may range from mild wheezing to potentially life-threatening asthmatic reaction. It is also a very rare cause of anaphylaxis in people who have become allergic to sulfites.
My Story Of A Sulphite Sensitivity
It started when I was a newly graduated dietitian. I LOVED wine. I was part of a wine club. I had a wine subscription. Wine came to my door, and Id normally enjoy a glass during the week, and a glass or two on weekends. I loved making beef bourguignon for guests. Whipping up a fantastic white wine risotto with lemon and green peas. I loved eating fancy cheeses with different wines. BUT, I began to notice, more and more, that each glass of wine I drank had me feeling worse and worse as time went on. Maybe I was always intolerant to sulphites. Or maybe I grew into it. But over time, I found wine made me feel like crap!
When my work schedule changed to starting at 6:45 am every Wednesday, I would pre-pack dried fruit my favourites being apricots and dates, as well as nuts for a quick and easy breakfast. I thought I was brilliant, pre-packing 4-5 baggies at once for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack. I felt like garbage on these days. I thought early mornings just werent my thing.
One day after a bag of dried fruit and nuts, I was rounding with my team. I was dizzy. My lungs were constricted. I felt a fogginess in my brain. I thought my blood vessels were going to burst out of my eyes. I was SO vasodilated the veins in my arms and hands were like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. I told the team I felt like crap. Concerned as they were- they took my blood pressure. 142/90-something. Hypertensive. What was going on?!
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