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I get classic allergy symptoms from sulfites - runny nose, coughing, swollen tongue, etc. It's pretty much immediate, like within the first few bites. As a teenager I went through a period of gasping for breath after eating dried fruit, though we had no clue what was causing it at the time. I react to foods with naturally-occurring sulfites too (yogurt, vinegar, tofu - basically anything fermented), as well as any bleached flours and starches. It was hard to figure from labels, since sulfites are often used in the manufacturing process rather than added as ingredients, so I'd had no idea that lemon juice concentrate and other stuff like that was high in sulfites.

It took me about six months after going gluten free to recognize the sulfite issue. I doubt I ever would have figured it out beforehand, as there was just too much going on and I couldn't distinguish which foods were causing which symptoms. This did solve a long-standing mystery about why I often got very sick from mashed potatoes and fruit salad in restaurants but was totally with those same things at home: sulfites and/or lemon juice concentrate are added to prevent browning. This is irrelevant now because I don't eat out, but it was nice to finally have an explanation.

Antihistamines do help me quite a lot, though I know some doctors don't consider it a true allergy. In any case, I've been gluten free for over two years now and unfortunately my sulfite reaction hasn't really improved with time. However, I eventually learned my limit, so I can have some fermented foods and bleached flours/starches once in a while as long as I don't have them often.


Daughter: Positive tTG-IgA, DGP-IgA, and DGP-IgG. Celiac confirmed by biopsy in June 2013, at age four. Clear gastrointestinal, behavioral, and neurological/sensory symptoms since very early infancy, even when exclusively breastfeeding.

Me: Diagnosed by GI with "presumed celiac" based on health history, celiac in family, and resolution of fat malabsorption and many other symptoms on gluten-free diet. Long history of eczema, chronic diarrhea, steatorrhea, ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, infertility, chronic insomnia, low cholesterol, vitamin deficiencies, and joint pain. Negative celiac tests after 15 years gluten-light and then a brief but awful gluten challenge. 

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Have had the sulfite problem since the very early 90's. Found out by inhaling fumes from a product called Iron Out, while cleaning a water softener, and then a few weeks later a dishwasher. Not too long after that, my worse asthmatic attack was from eating some horseradish. It was very, very scary as I didn't realize why I had such a hard time breathing and thought like the other times, it would go away in 5 or 10 minutes. It took longer maybe 20 minutes? I also was getting really bad migraines, that would start in lower back of neck and move up to my sinus's and behind both eyes ( still get these a few times a month). I was prescribed Imitrex, and it took some of it away, but not enough, so I would take tylenol. Within an hour of taking tylenol I would throw up, then start to feel better. I started making myself vomit when I had these headaches to feel better. I eventually read the labels on the products that had given me the asthmatic symptoms. A common ingredient was metabisulfites! I then went to the pharmacy to check on the tylenol, and after a little persuading managed to get the pharmasist to check his drug  bible. And yes back then tylenol did have sulfites in it. One of our big problems living at that home in the country was the well water. It was high in iron and organic sulfer, which you can see if you look in the back of a toilet. It's a black, slimy, greasy looking substance that didn't have a strong sulfer smell but clogged up water filters pretty fast. Maybe the fumes/drinking water etc. started all this I don't know. Within a year of this I got really sick, bedridden for 3 days, foggy head weak soaking wet night sweats, etc. After many doctor visits, tests, and more tests, I was also diagnosed with crohn's. I blame the sulfites and taking nsaids? Didn't now about nsaids and bowel damage back then and maybe would of taken anything to stop the pain anyway? About 2007 a friend with celiac prompted me to get a blood test, because she said, "my symptoms were so simular to her's" and she thought maybe I was misdiagnosed. I was going to a surgeon anyway so I asked him about the test. He said OK. I figured it would be good to rule it out so I had the blood test done. It came back positive. So he booked me for the scope biopsy, also positive. My gastro Dr. had a hard time believing I would have both "like getting struck by lightening  twice" he said. So he did he own scopes, and yes celiac and crohn's. Soooo now am on a very, very limited diet. Crohn's problems (bowel narrowing from scar tissue), 1 1/2 yrs ago forced a bowel resection, removing 25" of small bowel and appendix. I really think sulfites started this whole mess, but not many doctors seem to know or talk about sulfites. I have gotten more sensitive to sulfites over the past few years and now cannot tolerate natural occurring sulfites like in onions, garlic, old cheese. Seems they put that sulfite sh*& in so many things now, even my epipen :( 

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