Joint pain: Is sulfites in wine a possible trigger?

Sulfites or sulphur-based preservatives are commonly used in various foods and beverages. Even though various foods contain sulfites, wines are known to contain high amounts. The presence of sulfites in wine can trigger joint pain among those who have intolerance to sulfites. A doctor should be consulted if the individual experiences joint pain every time an individual drinks wine.

Overview on sulfites

Sulfites are inorganic salts that prevent the brownish discoloration in food and inhibit the growth of microorganism. Food manufacturers utilize sulfites on vegetables and fruits to prevent browning on seafood to avoid black spots or as a conditioner in dough.

Take note that sulfites are also present in wine to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Even pharmaceutical companies utilize sulfites to maintain the potency and stability of some medications.

What happens during sulfite sensitivity?


In most cases, headache is a common symptom after ingesting wine with sulfites.

Sulfites are categorized as generally safe to use. On the other hand, some individuals can develop intolerance to sulfites that can range from mild to severe. Sensitivity to sulfites can occur at any point during the lifetime of an individual.

The intolerance often causes pulmonary, dermatological, gastrointestinal or cardiovascular symptoms. Due to the reports of side effects, the FDA develops regulations on sulfites. The food labels must clearly indicate the presence of sulfites if a particular product includes a detectable amount which is 10 parts per million or higher.

What are the symptoms?

The indications of sensitivity to sulfites typically develop within 15-30 minutes of consuming sulfites in wine. The other reactions to sulfites in wine are usually mild.

In most cases, headache is a common symptom after ingesting wine with sulfites. The other symptoms include hives, rash, stomach cramps, nausea, cough, diarrhea and difficulty breathing.

Can joint pain occur?

In some individuals who have sulfite sensitivity, they might end up with joint pain. Further studies are required to establish a clear connection between sulfites and joint pain.

Considerations to bear in mind

If an individual is suspected with sensitivity to sulfites which is responsible for the joint pain, there might be a need to select the wines for consumption in a careful manner. Even though most wines contain sulfites, some variants such as the organic wines are free from sulfites.

Other beverages might also contain sulfites. With this in mind, it is vital to carefully check the labels on soft drinks and beer if an individual has sulfite intolerance. The foods that might contain sulfites include crackers, cookies, canned vegetables, syrup, seafood, peeled potatoes, salad dressings, crusts and other condiments.

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