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Need information on sulfa drugs allergy. What are the precautions to be taken?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1978
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I am presetly going through diagnosis for Sulfite Allergy or Intolerance. I was wondering if calcium sulphate would be a problem?
Would you be able to simply and complexly explain why. What other Sulphates do I need to look out for?
Posted Fri, 15 Jun 2012 in Women's Health
Answered by Dr. Pavan Kumar Gupta 51 minutes later

Hello and thanks for the query.
You have indeed asked a very good question because the names are close in spelling and pronunciation.
There is another entity,sulfa drugs,which can also cause confusion.
There is ought to be confusion between sulfa drugs,sulfites and sulfates and this is perfectly understandable.
I will try to clarify this confusion.
Sulfates are an enormous group of chemicals that contain the element sulfur. The human body contains dozens of sulfate compounds, and there are hundreds of sulfates in a natural foods diet. You cannot be allergic to sulfur, as it is a natural part of every cell in your body. Occasionally, however, people are allergic to the OTHER end of a sulfate molecule. Someone allergic to shellfish, for example, may be allergic to glucosamine sulfate because glucosamine is derived from shellfish.

Sulfa drugs, (sulfanilamide, sulfathiazole, sulfadiazine and about a hundred others) are a class of pharmaceuticals called sulfonamides, which are the amides of sulfonic acid. They are useful because they stop bacterial growth, even if they don’t actually kill bacteria like antibiotics. Some people are allergic to sulfa drugs, but this does not carry over to sulfate compounds. I’ll say that again: there is no connection between sulfa drugs and the sulfates found in your body, your dinner, or your nutritional supplements and sulfites.

Sulfites are sulfur-containing chemicals used as food preservatives, such as sodium metabisulfite,sodium sulfite,sodium bisulfite,potassium bisulfite and potassium metabisulfite and are used in various foods and medications. Again, they are entirely different from sulfates and sulfa drugs. Some people, especially asthmatics, are sensitive to sulfites and can experience severe allergic reactions. Since 1987, food containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfites and drugs containing sulfites must be labeled.
I hope to have answered your query however you may revert to me for any further query.
Thanks and best of luck.

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