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Signs of a Chocolate Allergy

author image Virginia Van Vynckt
From 1978 until 1995, Virginia Van Vynckt worked as a writer and editor at The Chicago Sun-Times. She has written extensively about food and nutrition, having co-authored seven cookbooks. She also published "Our Own," a book about older-child adoption. Van Vynckt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University.
Signs of a Chocolate Allergy
Signs of a Chocolate Allergy

True allergy to cocoa is rare. Most likely an allergy to or intolerance of other ingredients in chocolate or chocolate desserts, such as soy or dairy, is causing symptoms. You might also be sensitive to the natural chemicals in chocolate. Chocolate allergy symptoms can show within minutes or within several hours after you eat chocolate, and can range from rashes to trouble breathing. Severe symptoms require emergency treatment.

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Suspect Ingredients

Even chocolate that does not contain nuts can be made on machinery used to manufacture products that do contain nuts. The label should alert you to this. Chocolate candies and desserts often contain soy, dairy products, gluten, corn or corn syrup, food dyes and flavorings, all of which can cause problems in people who have allergies or intolerance to those ingredients. Chocolate may even contain nickel and often contains trace parts of cockroaches, that hang out around the cocoa beans. Natural chemicals in chocolate, including caffeine, can also cause problems.

Itching and Rashes

Food allergies, including chocolate allergy, commonly cause hives, a bumpy red, itchy rash, and ezcema, a flat, dry, itchy rash. Your ears, mouth or rectum may itch. Your skin may appear red.

Respiratory Symptoms

A dry cough, sneezing and a runny or stuffed-up nose are common symptoms of food allergy. Call 911 if the respiratory symptoms turn severe, such as trouble breathing.

Gastrointestinal Upsets

Chocolate allergy, like all food allergies, can upset your digestive system, resulting in heartburn, stomachache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. You might also experience an odd taste in your mouth.


A sensitivity to one of the natural chemicals in chocolate, such as caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and tyramine, can cause headaches. Chocolate is one of the foods that people who experience migraines are urged to avoid.

Severe Symptoms

A severe chocolate allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, a condition that can become life-threatening. Signs of anaphylaxis can include wheezing or shortness of breath, chest pain, panic, confusion, a weak pulse, dizziness, and swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat to the point that it interferes with swallowing or breathing. If you or someone else experience serious symptoms, get emergency help.

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