Chocolate causes a range of adverse reactions. Symptoms of a chocolate allergy are usually mild, but in some cases, someone can experience a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. It is very serious, and for some people, the only way to avoid these problems is to avoid chocolate.
However, true chocolate allergies are quite rare. If you experience adverse symptoms after you eat chocolate, it is more likely that you are allergic to another ingredient in the chocolate, or that you suffer from a chocolate intolerance.
An intolerance is a reaction of your gastrointestinal system rather than your immune system, and it is a reaction to an ingredient or chemical in the chocolate, rather than the protein in the chocolate. Some of the chemicals in chocolate are soy lecithin, tyramine, phenylethylamine, theobromine, caffeine, flavorings, and emulsifiers.
The top eight food allergens are eggs, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Several of these ingredients are very common in chocolate bars, cakes, brownies, puddings, and more. If you react when you eat chocolate, it is probable that you are allergic to one of these major allergens. However, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a board-certified allergist.
Chocolate Allergy Symptoms
- Itching, hives, or chocolate allergy rash
If you experience the above symptoms after eating chocolate, contact one of our NYC allergists. We provide chocolate allergy testing to confirm your allergy. Other symptoms that may arise after eating chocolate are diarrhea, indigestion, and bloating. These are due to a chocolate intolerance. Symptoms of an intolerance will subside on their own, but medication can help you feel better faster.
Whether you suffer from a chocolate allergy or intolerance, you should avoid foods with chocolate. We provided a chocolate allergy food list to help you navigate through this allergy.
Chocolate Allergy Foods to Avoid
|Crepes and pancakes
Companies aren’t required to label chocolate on packaged goods. However, chocolate is rarely a hidden ingredient. This makes it easy to identify chocolate in certain foods. Contact a food allergy doctor for a complete list of chocolate foods to avoid.
Chocolate Allergy Diagnosis
Drinking hot chocolate or eating a brownie is NOT the way to test for a chocolate allergy or intolerance. The only way to diagnose a chocolate allergy is to be tested by an allergist. Your allergist may suggest a blood test or a food challenge. A blood test for allergies measures Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that your immune system develops in reaction to a specific allergen.
During a food challenge, you will be asked to eat a small amount of chocolate in a clinical setting only. Food allergies can be severe, so you must be around a board-certified allergist during this test. They will keep an Epipen or Auvi-Q nearby in case you experience a severe chocolate allergy reaction.
Your allergist may also perform a chocolate allergy patch test or skin prick test to rule out other food allergies that are a common ingredient in chocolate-based foods, such as milk and eggs. Milk and egg allergies can be severe, so a proper diagnosis is necessary.
Chocolate Allergy Treatment
Treatment for allergies begins with avoidance. If you’re allergic to chocolate, refrain from eating chocolate and its byproducts. Your allergist will also prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector that you should carry with you.
For less severe allergies, such as itching and hives, try over-the-counter treatment options. Cortisone creams can help with inflammation of the skin. Antihistamine pills also help with mild reactions.
Chocolate Allergy Frequently Asked Questions
Can Chocolate Give You A Rash?
Yes, chocolate can give you a rash. The rash can be immediate or delayed. If you develop a rash after eating chocolate, contact a food allergy specialist for treatment.
Can I Be Allergic to Chocolate?
If you experience the above symptoms, you can be allergic to chocolate. Contact NY Allergy & Sinus Centers for a quick diagnosis.
How Is Chocolate Allergy Diagnosed?
Chocolate allergy is diagnosed with allergy testing. Visit an allergist for an allergy assessment.
How Is Chocolate Allergy Treated?
Most chocolate allergy symptoms are treated with antihistamines. For more severe allergies, epinephrine may be prescribed.
Is Chocolate Allergy Curable?
No, chocolate allergy is not curable. However, you can easily manage your symptoms with the help of an allergy specialist. Our allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers have over 20 years of experience in allergy and immunology. We provide a full treatment plan based on your symptoms. Your treatment plan also includes expert training on how to administer certain drugs, such as epinephrine or inhaled corticosteroids.
What’s the Difference Between A Chocolate Allergy and A Chocolate Intolerance?
A chocolate allergy relates to the immune system. Your immune system registers the protein in chocolate as harmful and evokes an allergic reaction. A chocolate intolerance relates to the digestive system. In this case, your body can’t digest the sugars in chocolate.
Why Are People Allergic to Chocolate?
There are many proteins in chocolate that cause allergic reactions, but most people react to cocoa. Other ingredients may also cause an allergic reaction such as soy lecithin, tyramine, phenylethylamine, theobromine, caffeine, flavorings, and emulsifiers. To determine what protein or ingredient you’re allergic to, contact a board-certified allergist.
If you are concerned about a chocolate allergy, the allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers are here to help. NYASC has access to the latest testing & treatments and we offer seven convenient offices throughout NYC to help you find relief for your asthma, nasal and sinus problems, ENT (ear, nose, and throat) symptoms, respiratory allergies, and skin conditions. We see pediatric and adult patients. Please call 212-686-6321 to book your appointment.