Chocolate Allergy Symptoms: 9 Shocking Symptoms

Chocolate has always been quite a favourite among young and old alike. It is extensively used in drinks, snacks, and desserts as well. While some of us love eating chocolate, did you know that a percentage of people have chocolate allergy symptoms?

It is vital to know whether you might have chocolate allergy symptoms or not as it can lead to health complications. These people cannot eat this sweet savoury because of food allergies.

Food allergies can happen anytime the immune system reacts to something harmful. The reactions can be mild to severe. If you happen to undergo any symptoms after eating chocolates, you are primarily allergic to one of the ingredients in the chocolate product or have chocolate intolerance.

If intrigued to know about chocolate allergy symptoms, stick to the end of the article then as we share the details.

1. What Is chocolate?

Chocolate is prepared from cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are grown in large pods on cocoa trees. First, they are harvested, pods removed, roasted, and processed.

The two things that are made that is cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is pure fat, and it is a pale yellow or off-white colour. Cocoa powder has proteins, caffeine, sugar, minerals, and flavour compounds.

The chemicals used in cholate are soy lecithin, tyramine, phenylethylamine, theobromine, caffeine, flavourings, and emulsifiers. In appearance, it is dark in colour.

2. What Triggers Chocolate Allergy?

Chocolate has various ingredients in it. It includes milk, peanuts or tree nuts, and emulsifiers like soy lecithin, sugar, cocoa, vegetable fats, vanilla, etc.

So for people who have chocolate allergy symptoms, it can be hard to figure out what is causing the reaction because various ingredients in chocolate could be the reason for the allergies.

If you are allergic to one of the ingredients of chocolate, your allergy could be because of one of the cocoa powder parts. Chocolate is mostly cocoa powder. However, to make chocolate products, sugar, milk, and cocoa butter are added. So you could be allergic to one of these components.

chocolate allergy symptoms
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Here are some of the common allergens:

2.1. Milk

Children having dairy allergies are ubiquitous as the majority of chocolate contains milk. White or milk chocolate uses milk as its main ingredient. You could go for dairy-free versions or milk alternatives.

You could try dark chocolates as they are more bitter. To know more about food allergens to avoid click here.

2.2. Peanuts and Tree Nuts 

People having nut allergies are the most common type of allergy. A particular set of chocolates contains nuts and peanut butter. It is problematic because some chocolates might not contain nuts or tree nuts, and those which included are manufactured in the same line.

Therefore, it is better to make sure that the chocolates are manufactured in a nut-free place.

2.3. Soy

When chocolate is prepared, you need to know that it is a mixture of two liquids, which would separate without an emulsifier. It is required to keep it solid at room temperature.

The most used emulsifier is soy lecithin, and it can cause allergies for people who have a soy allergy. So better read the food label before eating chocolates. 

2.4. Corn 

Corn is unavoidable in chocolate foods. The most commonly used product is fructose corn syrup, used in making chocolates. Also, it is found in white chocolates.

2.5. Wheat and Gluten 

People who have celiac disease might be allergic to chocolate, especially milk chocolate. It is probably because of cross-reactivity. In celiac disease, the body is allergic to gluten.

Gluten is a protein that is in wheat and barley. Also, chocolate has a protein that is similar to gluten. So the immune system mistakes for it. Symptoms include bloating, pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting.

chocolate allergy symptoms
Image by timemytws/ DepositPhotos; 2022

2.6. Caffeine

A person who has an allergic reaction to chocolate can be sensitive to caffeine. These are caffeine sensitivity symptoms, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, jittery, irregular sleep cycles, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure.

These symptoms can arise from drinking coffee, tea, energy drinks, or herbal beverages.

Caffeine is low in chocolates, as a bar of milk chocolate will have 6 milligrams of caffeine. However, it has been tested that dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolates.

3. Chocolate Allergy Symptoms

You may be unaware that you have chocolate allergy symptoms of a chocolate allergy. So, when you consume chocolate, your immune system produces chemicals called histamines in your blood. 

As a result, chocolate allergy symptoms affect your eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, and digestive system.

These are some of the symptoms of chocolate allergy:

  1. Itching,
  2. Hives,
  3. Swelling of the tongue, face, and throat, 
  4.  Wheezing, 
  5. Shortness of breath,
  6.  Cough,
  7.  Stomach pain,
  8. Vomiting,
  9. Diarrhoea.

These symptoms all come under anaphylaxis, a very serious allergic reaction. It can also be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Chocolate allergy symptoms are not curable, but the symptoms can be easily controlled with the help of medications and by following medical advice.

chocolate allergy symptoms
Image by Champlifezy/ DepositPhotos; 2022

4. Foods to Avoid

You need to be careful while choosing products. Read the ingredient labels to make sure that they don’t contain the following food allergens.

Then, when you are out for lunch or dinner, you should ask that your food is prepared without those allergens. If a person is sure that he is allergic to chocolate, he must avoid foods that contain chocolate like ice cream, candy bars, ice creams, etc.

Chocolate is such an ingredient that it is easily identifiable and rarely a hidden ingredient. Coffee, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and jams contain chocolates

5. Food Substitutes to Combat Chocolate Allergy

Instead of avoiding chocolate altogether, people can try a legume named carob. Carob contains a chocolate-like taste and colour. In addition, it is rich in fibre, low fat, less sugar, and caffeine-free. So it can be a healthy alternative to try desserts.

You can try dark chocolate as it doesn’t contain milk as its ingredient. Although many who have milk allergies have encountered allergic reactions after eating this as well.

6. How to Diagnose Chocolate Allergy Symptoms?

You need to go to an allergist for an allergy test who will suggest a blood test, skin prick test, or removal of a few items to test whether you have a chocolate allergy.

The blood test will test the Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that your immune system develops in reaction to a specific allergen.

In a food challenge, you will be asked to eat small amounts of chocolate. There will be chances of allergies to arise, so you must try this where a certified allergist is present. They will have an Epipen 1or Auvi-Q handy in case you have a severe chocolate allergy reaction.

The allergist might also do an allergy patch test or skin prick test to see if you have other food allergies like milk.

7. Treatment For Chocolate Allergy Symptoms

Once you have diagnosed that you have a chocolate allergy, you should immediately avoid chocolate-related items.

The allergist can prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector in case of severe reactions. They provide immediate relief from shortness of breath and swelling of the face.

Chocolate allergy can cause respiratory conditions like asthma. So use bronchodilators and corticosteroids to relieve wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

In mild cases like itching and hives, you could use Cortisone creams2.

You can try Antihistamine pills to treat itching, watery eyes, sneezing, and skin irritations.
Antihistamine can be bought from a drugstore, or you could also ask your doctor for a prescription.

chocolate allergy symptoms
Image by Zerbor/ DepositPhotos; 2022

8. Conclusion

Chocolate allergies and chocolate sensitivity don’t come under the same umbrella. A chocolate allergy symptom occurs after you eat it, and it affects your immune system. It releases histamine 3into the bloodstream. If you have chocolate sensitivity or intolerance, then most reactions occur in the GI tract.

Many don’t know that they have chocolate sensitivity. It all begins with cacao 4or cocoa. The symptoms can be stomach pain, bloating, vomiting, and nausea.

The symptoms of food intolerance-based symptoms are nausea, stomach pain, cramps, vomiting, heartburn, headache, and nervousness.

However, the symptoms of chocolate intolerance or sensitivity are not life-threatening, and you can avoid these symptoms by cutting down on your chocolate intake or consuming carob or chocolate-like substitutes.

There is IgG (FC fragment Specific), Antigen5, Antiserum, and control test to find out the person’s food sensitivity. It can be easily carried out at home. You need to draw two drops of your blood and submit the sample to the lab. You will receive the test results in 7 days.

Majority of the food allergies begin in childhood, but they can develop at any moment in life. The reason could be excessive eating of chocolates though there will be no signs of allergies. Nonetheless, allergies in a child can be severe as the immune system is used to such issues compared to an adult.

Some people have a sweet tooth, and some are allergic to chocolate or an ingredient in chocolate-related items. Usually, they are rare and if you experience any chocolate allergy symptoms, then consult your doctor.

9. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What Does a Chocolate Intolerance Feel Like?

Symptoms of chocolate or cocoa sensitivity may include abdominal pain. bloating, gas, or cramps. headache

Q2. Can You Be Allergic to Chocolate?

Yes, you can be. It is better to consult a doctor if you face any kind of allergic reaction.

Q3. When I Eat Chocolate I Get Itchy.

Chocolate can cause allergic skin reactions such as urticaria, eczema, localized or generalized pruritus, superficial erythema, morbilliform, scarlatiniform eruptions, and ear redness.

Beyond the Common Exploring Lesser Known Food Allergies and Their Symptoms
Icy Health
  1. Worm, Margitta, et al. “Epinephrine delivery via EpiPen® Auto‐Injector or manual syringe across participants with a wide range of skin‐to‐muscle distances.” Clinical and Translational Allergy 10.1 (2020): 21. ↩︎
  2. Goldstein, Beth G., and Adam O. Goldstein. “Topical corticosteroids: use and adverse effects.” UpToDate: UpToDate Inc (2022). ↩︎
  3. Comas-Basté, Oriol, et al. “Histamine intolerance: The current state of the art.” Biomolecules 10.8 (2020): 1181. ↩︎
  4. Vanderschueren, Ruth, et al. “Mitigating the level of cadmium in cacao products: Reviewing the transfer of cadmium from soil to chocolate bar.” Science of the Total Environment 781 (2021): 146779. ↩︎
  5. Jhunjhunwala, Suchit, Christian Hammer, and Lélia Delamarre. “Antigen presentation in cancer: insights into tumour immunogenicity and immune evasion.” Nature Reviews Cancer 21.5 (2021): 298-312. ↩︎

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