Allergies to sulphur and sulphite products can be a nuisance, uncomfortable or lethal. It is important to recognise if a person has an allergy associated with sulphur. You should be fully aware of foods, beverages and medications that have sulphur in them. Sulphite, sulfa, sulphate and sulphonomide are other spellings and derivatives of sulphur. It is important to know that a sulphur allergy may be based on one type of derivative or medication and other sulphur-based products may not cause reactions at all. You need to learn to recognise potential signs of an allergy.
There are many sulphur allergy symptoms. Some are so mild that a person with an allergy may not even realise there is a problem. Sulphur is an irritant that can cause asthma like reactions. When using a sulphur-based medication or preserved food product look for these subtle indicators of allergic reaction. You may feel dizzy, have an upset stomach, diarrhoea, wheezing and tingling sensations after ingesting sulphur.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms when taking a sulphite medication or have eaten anything that could contain sulphites, you need to call your doctor. When you are taking a sulphite medication and experiencing severe, sudden headaches and vomiting call your doctor. Asthma patients can trigger an attack when ingesting sulphur in foods or medications if an allergy is present in your system. Severe symptoms include wheezing, rash, accelerated heart rate, difficulty swallowing, anaphylaxis and seizures.
Food and Beverage Sources
Sulphur dioxide is released from sulphites. It can be found in your food supply. Sulphites are used as a preservative in foods such as dehydrated potatoes, pickled onions, pizza dough, jam, jellies, maple syrup, packaged gravy and sauces. Canned and bottled fruit salads can have sulphites in them to preserve the colour of the fresh fruits. Commercial distributors of food use sulphites as a preservative in various products. It is important to read the small print on product labelling. Beer and other alcoholic beverages may have sulphite preservatives in them. If you have a known allergy you must be aware.
If a patient is being irritated by mild to moderate symptoms it may be necessary to have skin tests done to determine if there is a diagnosable allergy. The best form of "treatment" is to refrain from eating any foods that may have caused the sulphur allergy. If a reaction has taken place after taking a sulphite drug, you need to call the doctor and go off of the medication. The doctor will change your medication. In general a sulphur allergy due to foods will not mean that you are allergic to a medication.
Allergic reactions to sulphur are varied. Reactions can be immediate or long term. Immediate reactions can take place within minutes. You can also have such low grade reactions that you do not realise you are allergic to a form of sulphur for weeks, months or years. If you have a suspicion that an allergy is causing problems for you, keep a diary of foods and medications along with a record of symptoms that you are experiencing.