Chocolate is present in various desserts and even in some dishes. An allergy and sensitivity to chocolate are different conditions.
Do I have an allergy to chocolate?
If allergic to chocolate, the immune system triggers the release of chemicals including histamine into the bloodstream that can affect the nose, eyes, throat, lungs, skin and digestive tract.
In case an individual is allergic to chocolate, some of these symptoms might arise after eating or from direct handling:
- Abdominal cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lips, throat or tongue
Remember that these symptoms are part of a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. This is a dangerous reaction that can be deadly if not promptly treated.
Is it sensitivity?
Sensitivity to chocolate is different from an allergic reaction. It does not involve an immune response and not dangerous.
If an individual has sensitivity, he/she might be able to consume limited amounts of chocolate without any issues. In large amounts, chocolate can instigate a reaction in the digestive tract or other part of the body.
Those who are sensitive to chocolate might experience the following:
- Gas or bloating
- Skin rash or contact dermatitis
- Upset stomach
When to consult a doctor
If an individual is suspected with an allergy or sensitivity to chocolate, an allergist should be seen. A skin prick and blood test or even an elimination diet is used to determine if chocolate is the cause.
Depending on the seriousness of a reaction to chocolate, the doctor might instruct the individual to avoid the food or only limit it in the diet.
If the individual is prone to a severe allergic reaction, an auto-injector epinephrine must be on hand always. A shot can help alleviate symptoms such as swelling of the face and shortness of breath.