wine and asthma - Printable Version

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- curious - 02-24-2004 12:57 AM


my family doc says I may have asthma, I am going to see a specialist in a couple of weeks, need to get over this "attack" so an accurate reading can be done.
Anyhow, I was wondering, is there any problem with asthma and the meds that will be taken for it that can be affected by wine?
I know that I will have to watch with the meds I take for my Bipolar, but was wondering from the wine perspective.
Thanks for the input.


- Thomas - 02-24-2004 09:21 AM

The only truly documented problems with sulfur dioxide (sulfites in wine) for humans is that it can, in the right dosage, shut down an asthmatic's respiratory system.

Wine usually contains low levels of sulfites, but you should check with the medicos to see and understand what your ashtmatic condition can or cannot withstand.

Incidentally, a host of packaged baked foods contain sulfites too.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 02-24-2004).]

- wondersofwine - 02-24-2004 06:09 PM

Doctors advise against mixing wine with sedatives. I don't know the properties of asthma medication or if it has any chemical similarities to sedatives. Bucko is our medical expert. If he doesn't reply, then check it with your doctor (probably should check with your personal physician anyway). I was taking cough medicine about a week ago and it says to limit alcohol to one or two glasses a day while taking the cough medicine but two glasses is my normal intake anyway unless I'm at a wine dinner or tasting.

- Bucko - 02-25-2004 12:14 AM

Histamine in wine has been associated with triggering a wide spectrum of adverse symptoms, including sneezing, rhinitis, itching, flushing, headache and asthma. The sulphites in wine have also been associated with triggering asthmatic responses. Clinical studies have confirmed sensitivities to the sulphites in wine in LIMITED numbers of individuals, but the extent to which the sulphites contribute to wine sensitivity overall is NOT clear. The etiology of wine-induced asthmatic responses may be complex and may involve several co-factors -- it is most likely not the wine exclusively.

- Bucko - 02-25-2004 12:41 AM

Here are some abstracts. Bottom line, we don't have a clear picture:

Role of sulfite additives in wine induced asthma: single dose and cumulative dose studies.

Vally H, Thompson PJ,

Department of Medicine, The University of Western Australia and the Asthma and Allergy Research Institute Inc, Perth, Western Australia.

BACKGROUND: Wine appears to be a significant trigger for asthma. Although sulfite additives have been implicated as a major cause of wine induced asthma, direct evidence is limited. Two studies were undertaken to assess sulfite reactivity in wine sensitive asthmatics. The first study assessed sensitivity to sulfites in wine using a single dose sulfited wine challenge protocol followed by a double blind, placebo controlled challenge. In the second study a cumulative dose sulfited wine challenge protocol was employed to establish if wine sensitive asthmatics as a group have an increased sensitivity to sulfites. METHODS: In study 1, 24 asthmatic patients with a strong history of wine induced asthma were screened. Subjects showing positive responses to single blind high sulfite (300 ppm) wine challenge were rechallenged on separate days in a double blind, placebo controlled fashion with wines of varying sulfite levels to characterise their responses to these drinks. In study 2, wine sensitive asthmatic patients (n=12) and control asthmatics (n=6) were challenged cumulatively with wine containing increasing concentrations of sulfite in order to characterise further their sensitivity to sulfites in wine. RESULTS: Four of the 24 self-reporting wine sensitive asthmatic patients were found to respond to sulfite additives in wine when challenged in a single dose fashion (study 1). In the double blind dose-response study all four had a significant fall in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)) (>15% from baseline) following exposure to wine containing 300 ppm sulfite, but did not respond to wines containing 20, 75 or 150 ppm sulfite. Responses were maximal at 5 minutes (mean (SD) maximal decline in FEV(1) 28.7 (13)%) and took 15-60 minutes to return to baseline levels. In the cumulative dose-response study (study 2) no significant difference was observed in any of the lung function parameters measured (FEV(1), peak expiratory flow (PEF), mid phase forced expiratory flow (FEF(25-75))) between wine sensitive and normal asthmatic subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Only a small number of wine sensitive asthmatic patients responded to a single dose challenge with sulfited wine under laboratory conditions. This may suggest that the role of sulfites and/or wine in triggering asthmatic responses has been overestimated. Alternatively, cofactors or other components in wine may play an important role in wine induced asthma. Cumulative sulfite dose challenges did not detect an increased sensitivity to sulfite in wine sensitive asthmatics and an alternative approach to identifying sulfite/wine sensitive asthma may be required.
Alcoholic drinks: important triggers for asthma.

Vally H, de Klerk N, Thompson PJ,

Department of Medicine, University of Western Australia and the Asthma and Allergy Research Institute, Western Australia.

BACKGROUND: Although anecdotally alcoholic drinks seem to be common triggers for asthma, little is known of the prevalence, the characteristics, or the mechanisms underlying these reactions. OBJECTIVES: The primary aim of this study was to determine the frequency and characteristics of asthmatic reactions triggered by alcoholic drinks in a community-based cohort of asthmatic subjects. Investigations of other food sensitivities were also completed to explore some of the possible components of alcoholic drinks that may be responsible for these asthmatic responses. METHODS: A validated food allergy questionnaire was used to assess the characteristics of alcoholic drink-induced asthma in 366 adult patients recruited from the Asthma Foundation of Western Australia. The food allergy questionnaire was sent out by mail and self-administered by recipients. RESULTS: Thirty-three percent of respondents indicated that alcoholic drinks had been associated with the triggering of asthma on at least 2 occasions. Wines were the most frequent triggers, with responses being rapid in onset (<1 hour) and of mild to moderate severity. Logistic regression analysis indicated that wine-induced asthmatic reactions were reported more often by women (P =.032), by those taking oral steroids (P =.021), by individuals who had reported their first asthma attack at a younger age (P <. 001), and by those who had previously visited an alternative health practitioner for asthma (P =.041). A significant association between wine-induced asthma and asthma triggered by sulfite-containing foods (P <.001) and by aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (P =.01) was also observed. CONCLUSION: Alcoholic drinks, and particularly wines, appear to be important triggers for asthmatic responses. Sensitivity to the sulfite additives in wines seems likely to play an important role in many of these reactions. Sensitivities of individuals to salicylates present in wines may also play a role.
Wine-induced asthma: a placebo-controlled assessment of its pathogenesis.

Vally H, Carr A, El-Saleh J, Thompson P,

Asthma and Allergy Research Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Perth, Nedlands, Australia.

BACKGROUND: The sulfite family of food additives has been implicated in the pathogenesis of wine-induced asthma. However, the evidence supporting this is weak, and because wines have many hundreds of components, nonsulfite-associated mechanisms may also play a role. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to assess the potential sensitivity of persons with asthma to nonsulfite components in wine by using low-sulfite wine challenges. METHODS: Sixteen adults with a strong history of wine-induced asthma were challenged with both low-sulfite red and white wines and wine-placebo drinks. Challenges were performed double blind, using a Latin square design, with lung function being assessed before the challenge and at 5, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after the challenge. Subsequently, single-blind challenges with high-sulfite white wine were also completed in 10 individuals whose lack of reactivity to low-sulfite white wine suggested possible reactivity to sulfite additives. RESULTS: The mean FEV1; forced expiratory flow, mid-expiratory phase; and peak expiratory flow of subjects to low-sulfite red and white wines and red and white placebo wines were not significantly different. Furthermore, with a predetermined criterion of a fall in FEV1 of more than 15% representing a positive challenge, only one individual exhibited a positive reaction in the presence of a negative response to placebo. Only 2 of the 10 test individuals who were challenged with a high-sulfite wine demonstrated a marked and rapid fall in FEV1. Reactivity to low-sulfite wines appears to occur only in a small number of individuals who report sensitivity to wines, suggesting that the sulfite additives may be the major cause of wine-induced asthmatic reactions. However, direct challenge with high-sulfite wine revealed only 2 clear reactions in this asthma cohort. CONCLUSION: Wine-induced asthma appears to be a complex phenomenon and may involve several mechanisms that are codependent.

- Thomas - 02-25-2004 09:11 AM

After reading those studies I will amend what I said to:

The only documented problems with sulfur dioxide (sulfites in wine) for humans
is that it seems to, in the right dosage, shut down an asthmatic's respiratory system.

- curious - 02-26-2004 12:27 AM

thanks all for the responses. Very interesting reading, and it seems to state that there is no positive data at present to support wine induced asthma attacks, I imagine that it is a combination of many triggers. Put wine with another trigger and you may have an asthma attack, but each by itself is harmless.

I hadn't paid any attention to my behavior after having a glass of wine, can't remember if I had problems or not, but it would be impossible and unfair to blame the wine for any attacks, as cold seems to be the main trigger, and we have had a cold winter.

I will ask the specialist more about it when I see him. Meanwhile, I will skip any wine right now, as it is hard enough to breathe. I do know that it seems to affect me with migraines, if I drink a glass of wine and have the other triggers also. Wine alone no problem, add with the other triggers, and I have a migraine.

Thanks again for all the help.

- Thomas - 02-26-2004 09:38 AM

curious, for my two cents once more, I think the sulfur dioxide levels in wine are generally too low to cause a reaction, and that is why it is difficult for the studies to show definitive results. But, I am not a scientist, and since I am in the wine business, I likely would be seen as hyping the product if I say such things regularly. When I held a winery license I could have lost it and been fined for making such statements--the government has been bamboozled by interest groups on the sulfite question.

- curious - 02-28-2004 03:46 AM

I appreciate all the responses I read here. I take most of them with a large grain of salt,as I am asking for opinions. I know that most of what I read here, and elsewhere are ideas, concepts and personal views of individuals and so I don't take it as "written in stone"; except medical ones and even those are given leeway. I know that Bucko wouldn't state it unless he knew he had it correct. He human, so I am sure he isn't perfect, but he wouldn't just state something unless he had researched it and felt it was viable. But again, he is human, so he can goof occassionally.

I feel that any reactions to anything, whether it is wine or any other food, drink or medication is an individual reaction.
I ask questions, gather data, responses, read reviews, and them make my final decision. It doesn't depend upon one persons answer.

I understand where you are coming from. Whenever if ever I finish my degree, I will really have to watch how and what I say. Even now I have to be careful on some sites, when I discuss mental health issues, due to the field I am in.
Sheesh, what a world we live in.
thanks for any and all inputs from everyone here, don't worry that I will hold anyone to a statement, these are just opinions voiced here, and opinions can change like the wind does.

- winoweenie - 02-28-2004 09:27 AM

Janette, " he Human???" Are you talkin' 'bout our beloved Buck-snort, family practicioner ???(hehehehe)ww

- Bucko - 02-28-2004 01:23 PM

That was my take too, WW. That's bordering on insult to call me human! [Image: biggrin.gif]

- curious - 02-28-2004 06:55 PM

do I then amend it to humaniod or sub-human, [Image: wink.gif] ?

- Thomas - 02-29-2004 01:46 PM

Just think of it this way: that's no human, that's a doctor!