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WIAW: What Is Causing My Asthma Attacks

by Courtney on May 2, 2012

I think I sort of cheated for this week’s WIAW post…

You see, today’s post actually includes meals from three different days: last Friday, yesterday, and this morning. Is that cheating? Maybe. But hey, I’m gonna do it anyway. Winking smile

Besides, I actually have some interesting insights as to what may be causing my latest asthma attacks, which you’ll see below. So let’s go ahead and get this party started!

7:30am – Breakfast

This breakfast is actually what I had today, but I prepped it last night. Go figure…it’s actually what I ate on Wednesday.

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Another delicious batch of overnight oats in Jay’s leftover peanut butter jar.

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I’m so glad that I’ve trained him to not only save the jars, but also to not lick the thing clean so I at least have a reason for using the jar. Yeah, we’ve got a pretty good system going over here.

Breakfast also included some of my absolute favorite coffee in the world: The Fresh Market’s Caramel Macchiato flavor.

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I ended up stopping by the The Fresh Market last night and picked up just a small amount for the next couple of days. Would you believe it’s been over a year since I’ve last had this flavor? (<—fun post alert, totally forgot about that one!) Wayyyy too long of a wait though, if you ask me.

11:15am – Mid-Morning Snack

Now we’re on to yesterday – half a banana + 15 cinnamon roasted almonds

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I actually snacked on these bad boys right after I finished up yesterday’s treadmill workout and they totally hit the spot.

1:30pm – Lunch

Again, yesterday. I had a huge hankering for some sweet tuna salad yesterday afternoon, so I was quite happy when I realized that I had everything on hand to make it.

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It turned out to be one of the best batches yet, and was super voluminous thanks to a bunch of chopped up veggies mixed in. More food = happy Courtney.

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I used a few Wasa crackers for dipping, which were good, but I think I still like it best with some Kashi crackers or Wheat Thins.

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3:30pm – Mid-Afternoon Snack

Apple cinnamon Chobani + an apple

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An apple a day… Winking smile

Dinner – 6:00pm

My actual dinner yesterday was sort of lame, so I thought it’d be more fun to show you guys the dinner that Jay and I enjoyed last Friday; you know, the one that I never got a chance to share.

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We ordered from our favorite local pizza spot which I was able to swing by and pick up on my way home from work. We shared an Italian Herb Chicken Antipasto, which was delicious. Whatever dressing they use is super simple, but it tastes fantastic.

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I was also in charge of ordering, so I went with their Low Cholesterol Pizza, made on homemade whole wheat crust, extra sauce, roasted red peppers, green bell peppers, red onions, and spinach.

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One of the best pizzas we’ve EVER ordered from there. No joke. I went back for a third slice, too…definitely no joke.

Along with dinner we also enjoyed a glass of wine, which ended up bringing about quite an interesting turn of events…

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About three quarters of the way through my glass, I could feel my chest starting to tighten up REAL fast. I’ve had a few things floating around in the back of my mind as to what has been causing some of my recent asthma attacks, and I think I’ve finally narrowed it down…

The sulfites in some beers and wine could be the culprit.

The idea was first implanted in my head after a reader left a comment (I can’t remember where) saying that fruity beers tend to have that effect on people because of the added sulfites. That alone started making sense because anytime I leave from Brown’s after enjoying their cherry raspberry ale, I almost always feel tight chested, but I just attributed it to a crowded and stuffy restaurant.

But then, it happened the last two times that I drank blueberry beer too, so I started doing a little searching around, and it turns out this is quite common…

From Everyday Health,

“Yes, alcohol can cause asthma to worsen…

Another possible reason your asthma might worsen after drinking is a sensitivity to sulfites, preservatives used mostly in wines and beers that can increase symptoms in people with asthma. (Sulfites are usually innocuous for people without asthma.)

Finally, wine and beer (the fermented drinks) are complex mixtures of natural chemicals, some of which resemble histamine, the chemical our bodies make during allergic reactions. These histamine-like chemicals are thought to cause the alcohol-induced nasal stuffiness that bothers so many people. People with asthma may react to these chemicals with increased asthma symptoms.”

Seeing as though I’m already allergic to pretty much everything, this totally makes sense, but I don’t know why I never realized it sooner? It doesn’t happen with every beer I drink, or every glass of wine that I have either, so I’m assuming the amount of sulfites will vary from beverage to beverage.

I can actually remember being told a long time ago that wines that are typically mass produced (i.e., Yellow Tail, Barefoot, etc.) have a higher amount of sulfites, which can also lead to more severe hangovers and headaches when consumed.

The type of wine we had Friday night? Barefoot. ‘Nuff said.

So, I guess I have a little bit of work on my hands, to try and figure out which ones I can have and which ones I should stay away from, but I will say that it’s nice to know what has potentially been causing most of my asthma attacks lately!

Question for the Morning:

Do you have any allergies (food or environmental)? How severe and how do you deal?

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill Hanner May 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

aaww sorry to hear! I drink organic sulfate free wine b/c of my stomach! Be careful

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2 Jill @ Jill is Active May 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm

What brand(s) do you drink and where can I find that??
Jill @ Jill is Active recently posted..Get In That Booty Call!

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3 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope May 2, 2012 at 8:37 am

That is really interesting! I never even thought to think about the sulfates in wine and beer. I have asthma and stomach issues. So I think I might try to take notice of this from now on. I hope you are able to figure out which beers and wines you can still enjoy :)
Hope @ With A Side Of Hope recently posted..Wedding Talk Wednesday: Some Shower Gifts…

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4 Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life May 2, 2012 at 8:39 am

Yikes..an allergy to wine! Good luck with finding out which ones work for you. I bet you could find some good, cheap, sulfate free wine and Trader Joe’s!

I’m only allergic to penicillin, but I had to learn in the hard way in high school. My doctor prescribed it for a sinus infection and I broke out in hives and was swollen for weeks. She also told me that if I had taken another pill the morning I started getting the hives, I could’ve gone into Anaphylactic shock. Fun stuff.
Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life recently posted..WeeWoo WIAW

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5 Becca May 2, 2012 at 8:39 am

Wow I didn’t know that about wine and beer. I would have never guessed that. I am sure it feels good to know what might be causing your asthma. I only have seasonal allergies that come and go. luckily it’s nothing to bad :)
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6 Michelle@PeachyPalate May 2, 2012 at 8:41 am

Wheat and gluten I would say I’m intolerant too…basically they reek havoc with my digestive system and cause me to bloat like a balloon. Also dairy does me no favours! Other than that I did get food poisoning from prawns once or I could be allergic..which it was I shall never be touching them again , not worth it!

So hang on…allergic to carrots!?!
Michelle@PeachyPalate recently posted..A mixed bag

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7 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen May 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

Not sure if you saw my comment from when you mentioned this the other day, but I think the exact same thing is happening to me with some wines! So weird that we both figured this out at the same time. I’m hoping it doesn’t affect my trip to Napa in 2 weeks too much. I need to do some research on this b/c carrying around a rescue inhaler seems like playing with fire (which is my current approach). Love to hear what you find out too.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..PW Wednesdays: Carnitas pizza

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8 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life May 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

Wow I have never heard of alcohol adding to asthma attacks! I don’t have any food allergies specifically, but my stomach definitely has a hard time digesting apples, lettuce, and heavy fibers.
Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life recently posted..Almost at the Starting Line

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9 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health May 2, 2012 at 8:47 am

Ugh, that stinks about the wine and beer!! I love me some wine ;). Hopefully it doesn’t take too much work to figure out which brands/types won’t have that effect on you! Hope you have a great day Courtney <3
Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..Things Happening in May

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10 Danica @ It's Progression May 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

interesting…I’ve never had allergies (other than a slight intolerance to milk/ice cream/yogurt), but I hope that you figure out whether or not this triggers it! It stinks that it’s alcohol but better to know I suppose!
Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..fresh fruit and a delicious hummus! WIAW #23

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11 Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction May 2, 2012 at 8:54 am

Awww that stinks! But maybe you can look into some organic beer? I am allergic to sulfer based medication. I found out when I was put on it, and boy was it no fun!
Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction recently posted..Chicken & Pine Nut Stuffed Peppers

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12 Carol T. May 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

Hi Courtney:

I was the one who suggested that you may be allergic to fruity beers that have sulfites added. Many years ago, restaurants use to spray their salads bars with sulfites to keep the greens looking fresh. That has been banned. You will need to experiment with different beers and wines to see which ones you can have.

take care, – love your blog :)

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13 Lindsey May 2, 2012 at 9:03 am

I am very lucky to have to allergies. There are some food my tummy doesn’t agree with but in moderation even those things are okay.
Lindsey recently posted..This or That?

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14 Linda May 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

Yes, I have food allergies. I eat, I swell up. :)

Seriously, I don’t but my son’s girlfriend does. To pineapple. I never heard of such a thing. Well, we were watching the youngest perform Shakespeare at Indian Ladder Farms and we were having wine and snacks under the stars when she started getting sick. Seems there was some sort of pineapple extract in the wine. It was pretty scary, poor kid.

I can’t even imagine how you must feel when those set in. I admire your tenacity in getting your work outs done in spite of them!

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15 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries May 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

haha i always make cody keep his almost empty peanut butter jars for OIAJ too! it took a few times for him to finally remember, but now we have a system down. :)
Ashley @ My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries recently posted..WIAW #32: Road Trip Eats

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16 Caroline @ After Dinner Dance May 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

That’s so strange about the wine. I could see the whole mass produced theory though. Generally, if I get a headache from wine it’s a cheaper wine.
Caroline @ After Dinner Dance recently posted..Easy Chicken Piccata

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17 Blog is the New Black May 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

Glad you are getting some answers… very interesting!
Blog is the New Black recently posted..Miniature White Chocolate Cheesecakes

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18 Alysia @ Slim Sanity May 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

cinnamon roasted almonds? I may need to try those, I’ve had cocoa roasted almonds before…one of the best things ever!

hope you can get down to the culprit of your asthma attacks!
Alysia @ Slim Sanity recently posted..let the games begin

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19 Holly May 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

That sucks about wine, although thankfully it seems to be limited to ‘mass produced’ wines. Although one of my favorite wines is the purple Yellowtail. I just love the stuff, and am currently missing it a lot ;)
Hopefully you can figure out other things that may be causing flair ups in your asthma issues. I don’t have asthma, but Craig does, and I know how much is can really SUCK.
Holly recently posted..How Workouts Have Changed

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20 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat May 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

As much as my environmental allergies can suck, I thank heavens I don’t have food allergies – they’re way more scary, in my opinion. And I agree – more food = happiness. :)
Claire @ Live and Love to Eat recently posted..Confession & WIAW

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21 Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie May 2, 2012 at 9:37 am

I’m glad you figured it out, but I hope you don’t have to give up blueberry beer! I mentioned it to my fiancé after I saw you post about it a couple times and he can’t wait to try it!
Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie recently posted..Tropical Smoothie Recipe

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22 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More May 2, 2012 at 9:39 am

oh…i’m not okay with this! I have asthma and i refuse to think it could be worsened by beer or wine. refuse! ;)
Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Foodie for a Day // Baking Craving

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23 Sarah W. May 2, 2012 at 9:39 am

I generally am plagued with asthma issues during spring time (pollen – allergic asthma) and winter time (super dry air cuases inflammation in lungs). I’ve also noticed that sometimes after drinking I feel like i can’t breathe and am having asthma issues – I noticed that a few years ago so I try not to drink too much during my “trouble” times of the year. I also always have my inhaler with me in my purse b/c i never know when I will get that feeling.

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24 Kaelin May 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

Wow who would have guessed it was the beer/wine???

I very recently started to have severe heartburn/stomach aches after dinner several times a week. At first I wasn’t really putting it all together, but after some reflecting, I realized it happened every time I ate quinoa!! I have been eating it for months now, but only started reacting to it. I am pretty bummed to see quinoa leave my diet, its a favorite of mine, but the stomach were horrid and I won’t be eating it again anytime soon.

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25 Amanda May 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

I have the same problem with my asthma! It for sure is worse with the cheaper alcohols, and the fruity stuff. The cheaper wine kills me every time! God bless those inhalers!

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26 krystal@coffeecardiogoddess May 2, 2012 at 10:23 am

Oh no that totally stinks about your asthma attacks love! Hopefully you can narrow down and find a safe wine that you can enjoy. Everygirl deserves to have a nice glass of wine now and again
krystal@coffeecardiogoddess recently posted..Workouts and Weightgain

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27 chelcie @ chelcie's food files May 2, 2012 at 10:28 am

that is so interesting about wine..i never knew it could have a link with asthma..i’m sorry you have to deal with that. at least you now one what one of the triggers to the symptoms is!
chelcie @ chelcie’s food files recently posted..WIAW-Greek Pitas

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28 Andrea @ Andrea Out Loud! May 2, 2012 at 10:31 am

oh my gosh! allergy to wine!
i just did a huge post about my food allergies because i got a lot of questions about them… but im allergic to a type of protein found in a LOT of fresh (raw form) fruits and some veggies like carrots, apples, peaches, plums, pears, carrots, celery, etc and sadly i just have to avoid them all together.
Andrea @ Andrea Out Loud! recently posted..6 Things I Have Learned From My Training Program

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29 Amy May 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

Organic wines do not have sulfates, so just look for those and that should help :)
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30 Angela @ Health Happiness & Harmony May 2, 2012 at 10:48 am

Thank you so much for this post Courtney! I have low blood pressure and occasional instances of hypoglycemia, which occur after drinking some types of wine. My worst experience was after Barefoot last week! I have been doing some research as well, and it in encouraging you are finding the same thing.
Angela @ Health Happiness & Harmony recently posted..May Day

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31 Caitlin @ This Bride's Joyride May 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

Oh wow, I have never heard of this! I’m glad to hear it’s not all alcohol ;)
Caitlin @ This Bride’s Joyride recently posted..Wedding Wednesday: Registering

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32 Carolyn May 2, 2012 at 11:11 am

Wow – great that you figured out what may be causing you problems!

I, luckily, don’t have allergies / etc. but my dad had lots of allergies and he didn’t get them until he was around my age so I am fearful that I will still develop them. :(
Carolyn recently posted..The Last Week

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33 Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers May 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

Huh, I have asthma and I always got it when I drank a glass of wine. The it would go away. I didn’t realize it was from high sulfates in wine. This is wonderful information. By the way, the pizza does look amazing!!
Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers recently posted..Healthy Cinco de Mayo Round up

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34 Annie May 2, 2012 at 11:39 am

Yes on the affect of alcohol on asthma!

Whenever I drink champagne or wine (I don’t like beer, so I’m not sure on this), the whistling in my breathing comes on like clockwork. I used to help that with a couple of puffs of my inhaler, but somewhere along the line I realized that alcohol + any meds can’t be good. Sooooo I nixed drinking – for other reasons actually – but still, my asthma is no longer an issue.

Actually, this reminds me, I haven’t had any asthma issues since I quit drinking almost a year ago, and they would always make its presence known when I workout – especially on cold weather.

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35 michelle kim May 2, 2012 at 11:53 am

I also love to order extra sauce on my pizza orders! That one looks fantastic and sounds healthy!
I don’t suffer from any really bad allergies, just seasonal (trees/grasses).
One time, I broke out head-to-toe with hives and I still don’t know what caused it.

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36 Yellow Haired Girl May 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I have mild asthma – but it’s been diagnosed as “cold induced” … I get really, really wheezy when I have any sort of a bug. I’m glad you have an idea of what could be the culprit of yours!
Yellow Haired Girl recently posted..Impatient WIAW

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37 Kim @ The Family Practice May 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

At least you have started to pinpoint a cause and can avoid those things now! The only bummer is that its obviously things that you enjoy. I was at a wine class that talked about the health benefits and side effects of drinking red wine – one of the suggestions was to take an aspirin before drinking things with high sulfates as a way to counteract the reaction… maybe try that?
Kim @ The Family Practice recently posted..Mental Strength Conditioning

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38 Jill @ Jill is Active May 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm

That’s so weird that you posted this because I was literally just talking to my coworker about this yesterday. I was telling her I had a 1/2 glass of wine the other night and I started to get really flushed and red in the cheeks. It doesn’t happen EVERY time I drink one, but every so often.

She had just been to a vineyard that weekend and they had explained that when wines have to travel long distances, they have to put in sulfites to preserve the wine when it is in hot temperatures. The sulfites will most definitely cause that type of reaction. It’s frustrating, but maybe the answer is to get more locally, smaller produced wine??
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39 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers May 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Yikes – no fun! I’ve heard about sulfites and migraines but not asthma.
Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers recently posted..WIAW: The Homebody Party

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40 BakingSuit May 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm

There are a lot of wines out there without sulfates. One of my aunts is highly sensitive to them so my uncle started making his own for her (which is fun in itself!)

I’ll tweet you the link of locally available ones.

As for allergies. I’m allergic to inside, outside, and animals. Seriously. All tested for dusts, dust mites and molds, pollens, grasses and trees and cats, dogs and bird feathers. The only thing I didn’t test positive for was foods, but because of enzymes and what not, I have something called oral allergy syndrome where my mouth THINKS that I’m allergic to certain foods because of pollens. My allergies range from mildly annoying (dogs) to quite severe (hay fever) and I take a lot of Zyrtec and have kids Benadryl on hand almost always.
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41 Carrie @ Lift Eat Repeat May 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I’m allergic to Avocados and Flaxseeds and I used to be lactose intolerant too. I’e grown out of the last one, but I still don’t do much dairy at all!
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42 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed May 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I have a solution for you. Moonshine.
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43 Kristen @ notsodomesticated May 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I “cheat” on WIAW sometimes, too! Shhh don’t tell!! ;)
Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..Every fiber in my being hurts.

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44 Ali @ Around the VeggieTable May 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm

This is FASCINATING to me! I have struggled with my asthma for years and I often wonder if certain foods trigger it. Wine! Hmmmmm. I’m totally intrigued.
Ali @ Around the VeggieTable recently posted..What Wedding? {Guest Blogger – Janice Reyes Photography}

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45 Jill Hanner May 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I love Frey google it for location near you

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46 Shannon May 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I’m very lucky not to have allergies, but I have had sinus headaches every.single.day due to the spring weather. It’s killing me. So maybe I have allergies that are environmental related???
Shannon recently posted..Election nerves (part 2)

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47 Gabby @ the veggie nook May 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Thank you for this! I definitely notice that when I drink sometimes my asthma gets terrible! And since I have sensitivities to EVERYTHING, it makes perfect sense that sometimes, depending on what I am drinking, the sulphite load gets to great for my body and my asthma worsens! Thank you soooo much! I feel like a light bulb just clicked on in my head :)
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48 Barbara May 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm

This spring wine and seasonal allergies have been killing me. I had wine last night and after lunch today had a very severe allergy attack. I think it was the wine combined with a lean cuisine for lunch, too many sulfites. That’s why I try not to eat prepackaged meals.

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49 Katy May 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm

My fiance is also allergic to sulfites in alcohol. At first whenever he drank hard alcohol in excess his asthma would act up. Eventually it got SO bad that he would actually break out in hives and his throat would start closing even if he had a shot. He did some Google-ing, and discovered it was linked to a vitamin B deficiency and now whenever he is planning on having a few drinks, he takes a vitamin B12 supplement and he can tolerate it.
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50 Tt in nyc May 5, 2012 at 11:05 pm

My good friend has athsma and the sulfites esp in red wine really bother her. She also found out the hard way that there are often sulfites in dried fruit (??!?) used as a preservative. (usually apricots) Just read the labels carefully…! good luck with your research since a life without wine would be sad…:(

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