Asthma sufferers deal with several allergen triggers on a daily basis. Although Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, we have yet to find a method to eradicate the genetic factor. Thus, it is important to pay attention to environmental obstacles.

Did you know that up to 10% of Asthma sufferers are also allergic to sulfites? Sulfites are found in convenient foods, as they are used as a general preservative.  If you have asthma and a sulfite allergy, eating foods that contain sulfites can even be life-threatening.  What Are Sulfites?

•                Sulfur dioxide

•                Sodium sulfite

•                Sodium bisulfite

•                Sodium metabisulfite

•                Potassium bisulfite

•                Potassium metabisulfite

What are they used for?

•                Preservative in foods/beverages to prevent mold and bacteria.

•                Prevents foods from discoloring

•                Maintain strength in medicine, including some Asthma meds

Added to…

•                Cider

•                Avocado dip

•                Beer and wine

•                Condiments, jams, gravies, and molasses

•                Dried fruits & veggies

•                Juices

•                Peeled potatoes (french fries)

•                Pickled meats and vegetables

•                Restaurant food and other prepared foods

•                Shrimp and shellfish

Occurs naturally in…

•                Asparagus

•                Chives

•                Corn starch

•                Eggs

•                Fish, such as salmon and dried cod

•                Garlic

•                Leeks

•                Lettuce

•                Maple syrup

•                Onions

•                Soy

•                Tomatoes

Symptoms of a Sulfites Allergy

Symptoms of a sulfite allergy vary, but include:

•                Hives and itchiness

•                Upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting

•                Trouble swallowing

•                Flushing

•                Dizziness

•                Drop in blood pressure

•                Trouble breathing

The combination of asthma and sulfites can lead to anaphylactic shock. If this occurs, the entire body reacts severely to the allergen. According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, as many as 5%-10% of sulfite reactions in people with asthma are fatal.

If you have signs of an allergic reaction to sulfites, get emergency help. In many cases, using your quick-relief inhaler can control your reaction.

Ramie Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT