Sulfites Allergies | Allergy

Sulfites and Allergies – two new articles

by Allergy Guy

There are now two new articles on this site about sulfites.

We were getting a lot of questions about sulfites, especially related to wine, so we now have more information.

One article is a general discussion of sulfites.

The other article has a long list of foods that contain sulfites.

Sulfites are in many foods. I had no idea until I started researching this subject.

This makes diagnosing a sulfites allergy tricky.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura June 14, 2015 at 22:55

I get debilitating muscle spasms after drinking wine, eating balsamic vinegar, eating non-organic apricots … I just went for 6 weeks without any wine, vinegar, dried fruits and added balsamic to my salad last night and I was up in the middle of the night breaking the spasms in my toes, calf, bottom of my feet, etc. Balsamic also seems to tighten the joints in my hands … inflammation of some sort. This all started about 2 years ago, and I’ve had allergies my entire life. I see a couple others on this thread experience the weird muscle spasms and cramps … has anyone tracked it down with a Doctor? I don’t know where to start … my primary doesn’t seem interested even though I complained about the leg cramps for an entire year. They typically get me up several times a night and I have to walk and massage to break them. It’s happened during the day too, but not nearly as often. I figure because if I do drink wine, it’s in the evening. But I eat balsamic at lunch and the cramps don’t typically start until I’m sleeping. It’s just bizarre.


2 Barbara July 11, 2013 at 11:00

I have been plagued with a serious atopic dermatitis all over my face, eyelids and neck. I’ve had it for several months now. I have 2 glasses of Lindeman’s chardonnay every night. Could this be the cause? I went on Prednisone for 7 days and it completely cleared up but it came back as soon as I stopped.


3 Allergy Guy July 31, 2013 at 11:48

Well, it could be one possible cause. Try cutting out the wine and see if you clear up, it is the only way to find out.


4 Jodi R July 1, 2013 at 11:14

I think I have finally found that I have a sulfite allergy. All the symptoms you list here, I have had for years and never knew what was happening. I am highly allergic to alcohol, can’t take vitamin B, problems eating anything with niacin in it, am finding out one of my medicines has sulfite in it. I am a bit overwhelmed. I am a diabetic, and I printed the lists of foods you can’t eat, but now I am concerned about what I can eat, since I do need to eat a certain amount of carbs each day. Any suggestions?


5 P budreski February 22, 2013 at 07:29

Started having puffy lips, tongue, throat around 3am just after I turned 55. Prior to that no allergies. Spoke to 4 allergy specialities and they said I had I tolerance to something that didn’t show itself till after a buildup in my body. I eventually tracked it down to sulfites(I think). Seemed like I would have these reactions if I drank too much wine or drank it frequently ( 2-3 days in a row). I find organic wines are easier on me (why?). The allergists told me in 40% of the time you never figure out what is problem. Still not sure if it is sulfites.


6 lisaloo99 August 8, 2012 at 17:28

sulfites will cause aches and pain in the connective tissue called fascia. Takes 3 days for it to stop.


7 FRANCINE October 7, 2011 at 04:25

Not sure if I have a white wine allergy. I have been breaking out with hives that look like scratch marks on arms chest neck and groin. Not sure if it could be coffee. I had allergy shots allergic to grasses dust mites. Ended up in emergncey room for a shot was anaphalactic. Also have acid reflux from muscle in throat not able to open or close properly.


8 Jenya July 14, 2013 at 15:35

I have also been having hives that look like whip marks on my back and arms. On my legs they just look like itchy bumps and it seems to be from a lot of things but one of them is def red wine. I will be seeing an allergist for a skin prick test soon. I have always had environmental allergies to mould and dandelions that were quite bad but have only had this skin issue for abou eight months. It’s enough to drive a person crazy.


9 doc moe October 5, 2011 at 10:06

I believe that a person could have atrial fib due to sulfites. Naturally occurring in our bodies may be a different pathway than ingesting them. Anything can cause anything and each person has their own blueprint. Thanks


10 Rita June 29, 2011 at 15:45

I have recently been diagnosed with a sulfite allergy. I have been having an anaphylactic reaction to most foods I try. I am on a chicken and oatmeal diet.

What is truly safe? I am afraid to try anything.

I have read that B12 and molybdenum alleviate symptoms. Is that true? How much is appropriate to take?

Doctors seem to be lost on this. Help!


11 Jadxia July 10, 2011 at 13:33

those supplements will only help for intolerance, do NOT use them for an anaphylactic reaction they will not help you


12 Gail March 6, 2011 at 21:33

I had Stevens-Johnson Syndrome from Penicillin and Sulfa when I was 3. Now, I am 42, I have had cornea problems since my reaction and have been on lots of different eye drops that contain sulfites over the years. I can no loger take a lot of them due to reactions from the drops. Also, about 20 years ago I was having a reaction to alcohol. When I would have a drink, the glands in my neck would hurt. I have not had any alcohol in 17 years due to this reaction. Today at church I took the grape juice for communion as I usually do and had the same reaction. Is there a conection between sulfites in drugs, Sulfa drugs, alcohol and grape juice? If I am alergic to sulfites, why wouldn’t I have a reaction to more foods?


13 Jadxia July 10, 2011 at 13:32

Sulfa allergies are not related to foods.

There is sulfa/sulphur (the medications)
There are sulfates (which are in shampoos)
There are sulfites (in foods)

You can be allergic or intolerant to just one or all of these categories. Grape juice is often fermented the same way as wine, it is the naturally occurring mold on the outside of the grape that causes the sulfites.


14 Tanya September 21, 2017 at 20:24

I also had Steven Johnson Syndrome when i wa sone in which i almos tdied from. I am also allergic to sulfites, sulpha, sulfur and alcohol. Makes me wonder if this is due to Steven Johnson Syndrome.


15 Kristina January 14, 2013 at 15:05

There is a connection between sulfa and sulfites. Sulfa drugs can cause sulfite oxidasis enzeyme in your body to decrease. This enzeyme when low causes your body to store sulfites you intake by food, medicine, and or soaps. These store in you muscles and turn into sulfer dioxide. Causing extreme pain and tenderness to joints and muscles. Do some research and you will find it true. University of Kentucky was doing studies on. The effects can be reduced by not eating anything with sulfites, or medication (look at inactive ingredients also), and changing soaps, shampoos ect. It will never go away, but you may be able to build the enzeymes up from a low level. It is a metoblic issue not really an allergy


16 Keep looking January 5, 2011 at 01:09

Sulfites are often completely misunderstood. They are in fact antioxidants. Your body produces 5 times more sulfites in a day through basic metabolism than is found in a full glass of wine. About 0.5% of all people lack the proper enzyme to metabolise it. Mostly affecting asthmatics, the reactions are marked by hives, rashes and respiratory irritation. ‘Sulfite allergies” are one of the most consistently (self) misdiagnosed conditions. Something is making you feel bad, but based on the description of aches and pains, sulfites are in no way the culprit.


17 ann October 16, 2010 at 21:39

I have sensitivities to both gluten and sulfites and am having a hard time finding anything I can eat. Eating anything with either of these causes severe cramps in toes and ankles, leg muscle pain, knee pain and general aches and pains. I am awaiting blood tests that will probably confirm these allergies but are there any books about products that are safe from sulfites. I have a gluten book but now I’m finding out that many of the ok gluten products contain sulfites. Thank you.


18 Allergy Guy October 18, 2010 at 19:18

I am not aware of any books about allergy sulfites.

Can you give me some examples of gluten-free ingredients that have sulfites?


19 Jadxia February 25, 2013 at 16:01

Obviously, this comment is old (so I hope you’ve figured it out by now), but for the sake of future readers:

[This information is so useful that it has been turned into it’s very own article. See Avoiding Sulfites. Thanks Jadxia!


20 kurt keefer April 27, 2010 at 00:32

I have been trying for years to find out a couple of questions.Possibly you can help? i have a jar of the hottest horseradish in the world and it says natually ocurring sulfiting agents.i’m guessing that is what makes it lots hotter than regular horseradish? And if so,What kind are they adding to it? thanks, kurt


21 Allergy Guy April 27, 2010 at 09:21

Hi Kurt,

I’m not an expert on horseradish … here’s what I suspect.

Most likely, the “naturally occurring sulfiting agents” are a byproduct of fermentation when the horseradish is made. It could also be that it’s added as a preservative. Words like “natural” are always suspect in marketing, especially when it comes to food.

I can’t answer your question about if it makes the horseradish hotter.


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