An allergy to sulfa can cause anaphylaxis. Sulfanomide or sulfa is a drug that is used as an antibiotic. Sulfa drugs can also be used to treat other conditions such as urinary tract infections, fungal infections, or diabetes. Sulfas are sometimes prescribed as ointments, tablets, or liquids. A sulfa allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate emergency treatment.
Symptoms of a Sulfa Allergy
If anaphylaxis occurs after taking sulfa drugs, a person may notice that their heart is beating fast and they may feel nauseous and might vomit. They also have difficulty breathing. Less serious skin allergies can also occur after taking sulfas, including rashes or hives. The symptoms of a sulfa allergy can be similar to those of a peanut allergy.
Other Reactions When Taking Sulfa
Although most people have no drug allergy to sulfa, those who do can have other symptoms as well. They need to take note if they develop wheezing or feel congested after taking this drug. It can also cause stomach pain or itchy eyes. It is even possible to develop kidney failure and hepatitis if you are allergic to sulfa and take it for a long time.
Allergic Reactions to Other Sulfa Medications
Knowing what to avoid if you have a sulfa allergy is different for each person. According to the Mayo Clinic, some people are able to take diabetes medications, migraine medication, diuretics, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Celebrex without an allergic reaction. Others must avoid these drugs as well as Sulfasalazine that is often prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases and Dapsone, a drug used to treat some kinds of pneumonia, leprosy, and dermatitis. Many people with sulfa allergies are only allergic to antibiotics that contain sulfa.
Sulfa and Sulfites are Not Related
Although the names are similar, sulfa and sulfites are not related. Sulfites are used as food preservatives. They are sometimes used to treat shrimp, crab, wine, and other foods. If you see the chemical names of sodium sulfite and sodium bisulfite on the food package, then it contains sulfites. Although people can be allergic to sulfites and sulfa, these are two different allergic reactions.