Do I Have a Chocolate Allergy?
The answer to this question depends on your age, gender, ethnicity, family history and other factors. However, it is safe to say that most people have some sort of reaction when they eat chocolate. For example:
Chocolate allergy is one of the common food allergies in the world today. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 1% of the population are allergic to chocolate.
Most of them are children under the age of 5 years. Children with a chocolate allergy usually experience symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, runny nose and chest pain. They may also develop hives or even asthma attacks.
People suffering from a chocolate allergy are advised not to consume any kind of chocolate products at all. If you do happen to encounter these symptoms while consuming chocolate, then you should immediately stop eating it and seek medical attention if necessary.
It is important to note that there are different types of chocolate allergy. There are those which cause only mild symptoms and others which can lead to severe reactions.
It is also worth noting that many people suffer from a combination of both types of chocolate allergy. This means that they react differently depending on what type of chocolate they eat.
Symptoms Of A Mild Chocolate Allergy:
These people will experience no symptoms when exposed to cocoa butter, milk solids or sugar. However, their bodies will react to pure cacao, which is the basic ingredient in chocolate.
This is usually through a skin itch or localized swelling. In addition, they may also experience other mild reactions such as:
Most people experience these symptoms anywhere between fifteen minutes to several hours after eating a product which contains cacao. The symptoms usually resolve themselves within a twenty-four hour period.
Symptoms Of A Severe Allergy:
These people will experience a wide range of allergic reactions when they consume any type of chocolate product. These reactions can be life-threatening and should be treated immediately by seeking medical attention.
Difficulty in breathing
Swelling of the tongue and throat
Loss of consciousness
Stopping breathing completely
Death due to respiratory failure
Most people who are severely allergic to chocolate should carry an injection of epinepherine (adrenaline) at all times. This can be life-saving in the case of an extreme reaction.
If you suffer from a severe allergy then it is best to seek immediate medical attention if you think that you have come into contact with any chocolate product.
Is There A Cure For A Chocolate Allergy?
There is no known cure for a chocolate allergy at this time. The only way to treat the condition is to avoid all contact with chocolate and related products completely. In some severe cases, patients are prescribed with immunotherapy. This is a course of treatment which exposes the patient to small amounts of the allergen in question. This helps the body become less sensitive to it over time.
Recent studies have shown that people suffering from a chocolate allergy can become tolerant to it with prolonged exposure. Dutch scientists studied children who had a particular sensitivity to chocolate.
They found that it takes around ten years for the allergy to disappear completely. The amount of children experiencing anaphylaxis due to chocolate fell from thirteen percent to three percent during this time period.
If you are severely allergic to chocolate and are planning to partake in some Mayan ruins exploration, then make sure that you carry some epinepherine and get the appropriate shots before your trip. It will probably be best if you do not eat any chocolate while in the country either!
How To Test If You Are Allergic To Chocolate
If you think that you or someone you know is suffering an allergic reaction to chocolate then it is important to seek medical attention immediately. An allergist will be able to run tests to determine if this is the case and if so, they will be able to prescribe the appropriate treatment.
While there is no cure for a chocolate allergy, most reactions can be treated easily enough with the correct medication. The sooner you get medical help after eating chocolate the better, so do not hesitate if you think that you are having an allergic reaction to it!
Sources & references used in this article:
Developmental pathways in food allergy: a new theoretical framework by A DunnGalvin, A Gaffney, JOB Hourihane – Allergy, 2009 – Wiley Online Library
What do asthmatics have to fear from food and additive allergy? by A Gillman, JA Douglass – Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 – Wiley Online Library
Food allergen panel testing often results in misdiagnosis of food allergy by JA Bird, M Crain, P Varshney – The Journal of pediatrics, 2015 – Elsevier