(This blog was updated and re-posted in March 2020).
For many, many years, I suffered from an asthma cough that required the use of Ventolin and Becotide to control. I was relying on these medications so much there were times I couldn’t leave the house without these “puffers”. My cough was so bad when I was pregnant with my third child, that I pulled a muscle near my ribs from coughing so violently. The medication became less and less effective. My asthma cough would come and go depending on how well I was. Catching a cold seemed to be the “trigger” for my cough.
When our family went additive free for behavioural and health reasons for our three boys, I also went additive free. My cough disappeared. Catching a cold no longer caused the asthma coughing fits. After a few food challenges, I discovered that sulphite preservatives were the main culprit, in the wine and dried fruit I was consuming. Other preservatives such as benzoates (in soft drinks) and nitrates (in preserved meats) irritated my cough to a lesser extent.
Sulphite preservatives can cause irritable airways and the exposure to an external trigger can then bring on asthma or an asthma cough.
Simple changes to my diet have meant that I have not used an asthma puffer now for about 13 years. I drink gin and tonic instead of wine, eat chocolate cake instead of fruit cake, buy preservative free soft drinks (on occasion) and use tablet form of medications instead of liquids. I do occasionally slip up (usually from hidden sulphites) and my asthma cough has returned, but the cough is generally manageable and short lived because the rest of my diet is “clean”. The major slip up I experienced was from unlisted sulphites in Day and Night liquid capsules (sulphites in the actual gel capsules).
Australian researchers in 1984 found that 65% of asthmatic children were sensitive to sulphite preservatives (220-228). This is not a few people, this is a large percentage!! So if you suffer from asthma (or know someone else who does), try avoiding sulphites, it is well worth the effort.