Can Chocolate Make My Asthma Worse?

If you are allergic to chocolate, or common ingredients found in chocolate, eating it can make your asthma worse. Asthma is the result of inflammation and swelling in the lungs that restricts your airways, leading to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and chest pain. Because most allergy symptoms are the result of inflammation in soft tissues throughout the body, eating chocolate can make your asthma worse. If you notice that eating chocolate causes your asthma symptoms to increase, stop eating all foods that contain chocolate until your doctor can evaluate you.

Chocolate Allergy

A chocolate allergy occurs whenever you eat chocolate that contains common allergenic ingredients. You may be allergic to cocoa, milk, soy, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts that are commonly found in most chocolate goods, according to MayoClinic.com. What happens during an allergic reaction is that your immune system makes the mistake of reacting to the proteins in common chocolate ingredients as if they were dangerous. This reaction causes the body to attack the proteins with antibodies and histamine, which causes inflammation in soft tissue.

Asthmatic Reaction

Histamine produced in the soft tissue of the lungs causes inflammation and swelling to occur. When your lungs become swollen, your ability to breathe normally is restricted. This causes a high-pitched sound to form when you inhale and exhale and can trigger chronic coughing. If your asthma is worse after eating chocolate, you should participate in allergy testing to identify which ingredients are causing the inflammation in your lungs.

Identification

One of the most effective ways to identify allergens is with allergy testing. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that blood tests and skin-prick tests are the most common types of allergy testing. Your allergist will take the proteins that are most likely triggering your symptoms and inject a small amount under your skin. If the presence of the proteins causes inflammation and redness in the skin, you're allergic to that substance. A blood sample is used to identify whether your blood produces immunoglobulin E antibodies when proteins are introduced into your blood.

Prevention

Once diagnosed with a specific food allergy, you will need to remove those foods from your diet. Removing those ingredients from your diet can prevent further asthma attacks. If diagnosed with a cocoa allergy, you cannot eat anything that contains cocoa, such as hot chocolate, chocolate bars and chocolate cake.

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