The Link Between Food Additives and Asthma

When your child’s asthma causes daily coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, you may be concerned about factors that trigger your child’s symptoms. Could it be your child’s diet?

Foods and food additives aren't common asthma triggers, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, there is a link between some food additives and asthma symptoms. 

At Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland, our team of pediatric experts, including our pediatrician Dr. Ugonma Okparaocha, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma.

Here, we want to share with you what we know about the link between food additives and asthma. 

What are food additives?

When it comes to food additives, you may have mixed feelings. Are they good? Are they bad? Could they be causing my child’s asthma? We understand your concern.

But, for the record, food additives aren’t new. In fact, salt is a food additive people have been using for thousands of years to prevent meat from spoiling. Though the list of food additives has grown, their primary purpose is to maintain or improve a food’s appearance, taste, texture, shelf life, or nutritional value.

Food additives are safe for most people. However, to avoid developing symptoms, those with food allergies or intolerances need to pay close attention to the ingredients list in the foods they eat. 

Food additives and asthma

As noted, food additives rarely trigger asthma symptoms. However, the US National Library of Medicine notes that people with asthma report worsening of their symptoms after eating or drinking foods that contain sulfites.

Sulfites are food additives that slow down discoloration and browning in foods like dried fruits, packaged potatoes, bottled lemon juice, and pickled foods. 

When reading a food label, sulfites might appear as:

Food colorings, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and salicylates also purportedly trigger asthma symptoms, but there’s no evidence to support these claims, says the Cleveland Clinic.

If you have concerns that food additives or foods trigger your child’s asthma symptoms, we can help. We treat allergies, too, and can have your child tested to see if they’re allergic to a food additive or a specific food. 

Common asthma triggers

Though it’s possible a food additive may be causing your child’s asthma symptoms, it may be something else. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common asthma triggers include:

Physical activity, a change in weather, and breathing in cold, dry air are also asthma triggers.

Your child’s asthma may change over time. With regular visits to our office, we can help you manage your child’s asthma and adjust treatment as needed to improve symptoms and prevent an asthma attack.

For expert care of your child’s asthma, call our office or request an appointment online today.

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