Having an allergic reaction to sulfites can be a very harrowing experience with your throat closing up, having an asthma attack or just experiencing stomach pain and not feeling well. You can also pass out due to your blood pressure suddenly dropping. All because you ate one of your favorite foods that were laced with sulfite in the prevention of that food from becoming brown or trying to preserve the food for shipping and shelf life.
According to the FDA one in every one hundred people have allergic reactions to sulfites. You can develop a certain degree of sensitivity to sulfites at any time of your life. Sulfites are found in many different foods and medications. Sulfites are even used in asthma inhalers to preserve the medication and can be the reason for bringing on the asthma attack.
The cause of sensitivity to sulfites at this time is unknown. But people who have experienced sensitivity or allergic reactions to sulfites can experience any of the following symptoms that may be mild or life threatening: hives, swelling of lips, or throat, headache, stomach ache, and some people experience anaphylaxis that is when your throat closes up, you have shortness of breath, you have difficulty swallowing and you feel like passing out.
Sulfites are added to foods, drinks and medication in the attempt to preserve the food and medications. Sometime sulfites are added to prevent the food from becoming brown. Sulfites are preservatives and have been commonly used in foods for many years. In 1986 the FDA banned the use of sulfites on raw fruits and vegetables in order to preserve them giving the food longer shelf life. Today sulfites are still found in many foods including cooked and processed foods.
To discover if sulfites are present in the food you will be consuming read the label for the following ingredients: sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite, and sodium metabisisulfite. When you go to a restaurant in order to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction to sulfite in your food, ask the chef, or server if the food you are considering eating had sulfites added before or during the cooking process.
Sulfites can increase asthma symptoms in five percent of asthmatics, so it is very important to be vigilant about what you eat if you have asthma.
Watch out for these foods that contain sulfites if you have shown sensitivity to sulfites in the past:
Beer and wine
High fructose corn syrup
Fresh or frozen shrimp
Watch out for medications that contain sulfites to preserve their color and their shelf life. Ask your doctor about sulfites in your medication or ask the pharmacist.
Currently there is no reliable test to find out if you have an allergy or sensitivity to sulfites. You will have to rely on your past history with food and medications to discover if you have a sulfite allergy. Intravenous drugs can also contain sulfites to preserve them, so ask your nurse or doctor about it. Be wary and do not eat foods that have given you a bad allergic reaction. Read the product labels and ask your doctor or pharmacist a lot of questions. It is better to be safe than sorry.