Sulfite Sensitivities: A Root Cause of Migraine Episodes?

Sulfite Sensitivities: A Root Cause of Migraine Episodes?


As someone who has experienced the frustration of migraine attacks without knowing the root cause, I understand the importance of investigating potential triggers. One such trigger that often goes unnoticed is sulfite sensitivity. In this article, we will explore the connection between sulfite sensitivities and migraine episodes, highlighting the symptoms to look out for and the tools to track sulfite exposure.

Understanding Sulfite Sensitivities

Sulfites are a group of chemical compounds that are commonly used as preservatives in various foods and beverages, such as wine, dried fruits, processed meats, and condiments. While sulfites serve the purpose of preventing spoilage and maintaining freshness, they can trigger adverse reactions in individuals who are sensitive to them.

For some people, sulfite sensitivities can manifest as migraine attacks. Personally, I have experienced migraine attacks triggered by sulfites, leading me to explore this connection further.

For example, when I consume wine that contains sulfites, I often experience a throbbing migraine within a few hours. This recurring pattern made me suspect sulfite sensitivity as a possible trigger for my migraine attacks.

Recognizing Symptoms of Sulfite Sensitivities

Sulfite sensitivities can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Migraine attacks
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin reactions

During my own experiences with sulfite exposure, I have observed these symptoms, which highlight the importance of accurate identification for proper tracking.

For instance, I often experience shortness of breath and tightness in my chest after consuming foods containing sulfites. This respiratory reaction, along with my migraine attacks, prompted me to investigate sulfite sensitivities further.

Tools for Tracking Sulfite Exposure

A food diary is a valuable tool in tracking sulfite intake. By recording the foods and beverages consumed, we can identify trigger foods and note patterns and frequency of migraine attacks. Personally, keeping a food diary has been an eye-opening experience, allowing me to pinpoint specific triggers and make informed decisions regarding my diet.

For example, I noticed that every time I consumed dried fruits or processed meats, I would experience a migraine within a few hours. This consistent pattern helped me recognize the correlation between sulfite-containing foods and my migraine attacks.

In addition to a food diary, smartphone apps designed for symptom tracking can be useful. These apps streamline the process and provide a convenient way to record food intake and track associated symptoms. I have personally used a symptom tracking app, which has greatly facilitated my understanding of the relationship between sulfite sensitivities and migraine attacks.

Other tracking methods, such as allergy testing and blood tests, may also be recommended by healthcare professionals to determine the presence of sulfite sensitivities.

Benefits of Recording Symptom Changes during an Attack

During a migraine attack, it is essential to record any changes in symptoms for several reasons.

Firstly, taking quick notes during an attack allows us to assess the effectiveness of our medication. Questions to ask ourselves include:

  • How fast did the medication work?
  • Did I experience any side effects?

Recording these details helps us track the progress of our migraine attacks and communicate effectively with our healthcare providers.

For example, by keeping track of my medication intake and noting the time it took for the medication to provide relief, I was able to determine which medication worked best for me. This information guided my conversations with my doctor and allowed us to adjust my treatment plan accordingly.

Secondly, documenting symptom changes allows us to report all relevant information to our doctors. By providing a comprehensive overview of our symptoms, we enable our doctors to make more informed decisions regarding our treatment plan. While doctors may have limited time to review extensive records, it is important to focus on the quality and relevance of the information provided.

Additionally, from an insurance perspective, detailed records can help prove the incapacity and duration of our symptoms, which can be essential for obtaining coverage for medical expenses and accommodations.

Potential Downsides of Recording All Details

While recording all details of our migraine attacks can be beneficial, it is important to consider potential downsides as well.

Doctors often have limited time and capacity to review extensive records. Therefore, it is crucial to provide concise and relevant information during appointments.

Furthermore, doctors tend to prioritize the quantity of medication taken and its effectiveness within a specific timeframe. Guidelines for medication intake, including frequency and combinations of medications, may be emphasized. The focus is often on achieving relief within two hours, rather than extensive documentation.

From an insurance perspective, detailed records may not always be necessary for accessibility and coverage. Insurance providers typically require proof of incapacity and the duration of symptoms, rather than extensive documentation of each symptom change.

Determining When to Record Symptom Changes

It is important to be strategic when recording symptom changes during migraine attacks. Identifying specific objectives can help guide our documentation process.

For example, determining which medication is most effective requires tracking the response to different medications. Monitoring the speed of medication action can also provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of our treatment plan.

During my own experiences, I found it helpful to record symptom changes during severe migraine attacks rather than milder ones. This allowed me to focus on the most significant changes and make informed decisions based on those observations.


Sulfite sensitivities may indeed be a root cause of migraine episodes for some individuals. By understanding the symptoms associated with sulfite exposures and utilizing tools for tracking, such as food diaries and smartphone apps, we can gain valuable insights into our triggers and treatment options. Recording symptom changes during migraine attacks can provide us with a comprehensive overview of our condition, enabling effective communication with healthcare providers. While there may be downsides to extensive documentation, tailoring our recording process to focus on specific objectives can optimize the benefits. With further research and understanding, we hope for improved recognition and support for those affected by sulfite sensitivities and migraine attacks.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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