Symptoms and Treatment from Sulfite Allergy

Sulfites are group of chemical compounds such as sulfur dioxide, sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite etc. They are added in medications, food and beverages, when they are manufactured. They act as a preservative to extend the shelf life of food and beverage.

Though they are normally safe, many hypersensitive individuals can be allergic to sulfite compounds manifesting sulfite allergy symptoms:

Respiratory symptoms:

  • The most common allergic symptom of sulfite is asthma.
    The threshold limit for the amount of sulfite needed to trigger asthma may vary from person to person.
  • Running nose and sneezing.
  • Cough.

Abdominal symptoms:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Gastric discomfort.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Indigestion and gas.

Skin symptoms:

  • Rash.
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Flushing of face.

General symptoms include headache, giddiness, feeling lethargic, difficulty in concentration etc.

Rarely there is an anaphylaxis reaction with sulfites. But it is a serious allergy reaction; consists of slow pulse, low blood pressure, dizziness, seizure, unconsciousness. Immediate medical treatment is necessary.

Sulfite Allergy Food List

Sea food and meat: sausages, hot dog, canned clams, shrimps, scallops, lobster etc

Fruits: dried fruits, canned, and bottled fruit juices and fruit toppings.

Vegetables: canned vegetables, canned pickles, canned tomato products such as sauces and soups, potatoes mashed and frozen.

Food from bakery: cookies, pizza, crackers, flour tortilla.

It is best to check the label where the ingredients are mentioned.

Packaged food: Gravies, canned soups, dried soups, gelatins, salad dressings, olives packed, wine vinegar.

Beverages: alcohol, wine, beer, instant tea, tea concentrates.


Since many foods contain sulfite as a preservative, the best way to determine sulfite allergy is to consult your allergist or your physician.

With asthma, your doctor may give you bronchodilator and other symptomatic treatments.

Anaphylaxis reaction may need emergency medical treatment.

Home Remedy for Sulfite Allergy

If the allergic symptoms are mild, they can be treated with home remedies such as:

  • Asthma: one of the most common symptom of sulfite allergy, if the condition is mild, take honey in a cup of warm milk and drink twice in a day. It can also be taken with your conventional bronchodilator medicines. Honey thins out accumulated mucus and tones the pulmonary lining.
  • Running nose and sneezing can be controlled by nasal saline drops or saline nasal spray.
  • For gastric discomfort, garlic juice in a glass of water mixed with one teaspoon of honey will give relief from nausea.
  • Boil one teaspoon of barley seeds in a one liter of water. Drink this prepared water twice in a day after it gets cooled. Barley water helps to remove the body toxins.
  • The flavanoid quercein is known to treat mild allergic symptoms due to its anti histaminic properties.

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