Sulfa Drug Allergy - What Are The Symptoms?

A sulfa drug allergy is manifested when one is allergic to the family of drugs called sulfonamides. This class of drugs is an antibiotic consisting of any of several synthetic organic compounds. what this means for you is that if you have a sulfa drug allergy and are taking antibiotics for an illness, you should make sure that the antibiotic is not sulfonamide based.

Although those with a sulfa drug allergy can experience a variety of symptoms - skin rashes and fever are the predominant ones normally associated with this allergy. A lesser reactions, especially in people that have asthma, is to cause wheezing and possibly trigger an asthma attack. And some people have been known to experience sulfa allergy symptoms such as tissue swelling, especially in the throat area.

Sulfa based drugs have been around since around 1936. And although they can be very effective against a number of bacterial based illnesses, they tend to be toxic. They can produce abnormalities in the blood and kidney if over used. This is one reason for the popularity of penicillin. Penicillin tends to be just as effective as sulfonamide based drugs, but without the negative consequences. Because of the overuse of penicillin, however, some strains of bacteria have developed a resistance to it. In these cases, the doctor may find a sulfa drug more effective in helping to cure the patient.

What many people don't realize is that if they have a sulfa drug allergy or sensitivity, they may also be sensitive to many of the every day foods in the marketplace as well. Sulfur based preservatives are added to many processed foods both as a preservative as well as to improve the food's flavor. Sulfites also can be found in wine and beer. Fortunately, since manufacturers are required to put ingredient labels on most processed foods, these can be easily avoided. Just look for terms such as sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, or any ingredient with the suffix sulfite.

Note that while a sulfa drug allergy may indicate an allergy to sulfite, it's not automatically so. Many people have an allergy to sulfa drugs but can handle sulfite foods just fine.

Sulfa allergies are not something that a person is necessarily born with. This type of allergy can develop in adulthood, even if the person had no previous allergy experiences as a child.

If you do have sulfa drug allergies, make sure that you tell your doctor so he can take this into consideration when writing out prescriptions for you. There are enough drug choices out there that it will usually not be a problem to find a non-sulfa based drug as a replacement.

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