Is it possible that sulfites present in wine to trigger joint pain?

Sulfites or sulphur-based preservatives are commonly used food additives in various foods. Even though many food products usually contain sulfites, wine has been the most common source. There are some individuals who suffer from sulfite sensitivity. The sulfite present in wine might be the culprit for triggering joint pain if the individual has sulfite intolerance. A doctor must be consulted if the joint pain occurs after the consumption of wine.

What are sulfites?

Sulfites are basically inorganic salts that prevent the browning as well as controlling the growth of microorganisms. The examples of these salts typically include sodium sulfate, sulfur dioxide, sodium and potassium bisulfides as well as metabisulfites.


Headache is the usual symptom after drinking wine that contains sulfites.

Food manufacturers utilize sulfites on vegetables and fruits to prevent browning over time. These are also used on seafood to avoid the formation of black spots that develop after some time as well as a conditioner in dough products. Take note that sulfites are often present in wine in order to prevent the growth of bacteria. Additionally, even pharmaceutical companies utilize sulfites in order to maintain the stability and potency of some medications.

Sensitivity to sulfites

Sulfites are categorized as safe but some individuals can develop sulfite intolerance that can range from mild to severe. Sulfite sensitivity can occur at any point during the lifespan of an individual. This can cause skin, pulmonary, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal symptoms. Since most suffer from adverse effects, there are now regulations placed on sulfites. The food labels should clearly declare the presence of this preservative if the product contains a detectable level. With this in mind, individuals should carefully check the labels if sulfites are present. If you want to learn how to manage this condition, read here.

What are the symptoms?

The indications of sulfite sensitivity usually manifest within 15-30 minutes of consuming wine that contains sulfites. Most cases of reactions to sulfites in wine are usually mild. Headache is the usual symptom after drinking wine that contains sulfites. Other symptoms include hives, rash, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, cough and difficulty breathing. Some who have sulfite sensitivity can suffer from joint pain. Further research might be required to determine a link between joint pain and sulfites.

Considerations to bear in mind

If an individual is suspected with sulfite sensitivity that is triggering joint pain, it is best to select the wines carefully. Even though most wines contain sulfites, some wines that are organic are free from sulfites. There are also some beverages that contain sulfites. It is important to check the labels of soft drinks and beer if the individual has sulfite intolerance. Foods the might contain sulfites include crackers, cookies, dried or canned fruit, seafood, canned vegetables, salad dressings, crusts, peeled potatoes and other condiments.

Once the individual develops joint pain after drinking wine or food that contains sulfites, it can indicate sensitivity. If in doubt, a doctor must be consulted so that proper evaluation can be carried out.