People love dark chocolate, but it does come with its adverse effects - like sneezing. So why does dark chocolate make people sneeze?
It is worth noting that sneezing because of chocolate and being allergic to chocolate are completely different from one another. Chances are you aren’t allergic to chocolate and just suffer from chocolate sensitivity.
People sneeze after eating chocolate due to the Photic Sneeze Reflex. Chocolate can entangle the nerves in our eyes and nose, thus sending confusing signals to the brain. Those mixed signals can confuse our brain into thinking something is in our nose, which causes us to sneeze.
The next time chocolate makes you sneeze, consult your doctor to find out whether or not you are allergic to chocolate or whether you’re just sensitive to it. The reason why chocolate allergies happen in the first place is that chocolate negatively impacts immunoglobulin E levels within the immune system. When that happens, high levels of histamine are released into the bloodstream. The chemicals released due to chocolate allergy affect our lungs, eyes, nose, throat, and digestive system, thus resulting in sneezing.
After doing extensive research on this topic, we’re in a good position to tell you about why dark chocolate makes you sneeze, as well as chocolate allergies and the symptoms you have to look out for.
Symptoms of Chocolate Allergy
Shortness of Breath
The reason why some people sneeze after their first bite of chocolate is shortness of breath. The blockage in the airways results in shortness of breath. As a result, we wheeze, cough, and sneeze, thus making us uncomfortable.
Migraines are another symptom of a chocolate allergy. The front of your head will start to ache, followed by nausea, vomiting, and pain in your teeth and jaws. You can either take painkillers or part ways with chocolate.
Some people also experience hives and rashes in various parts of their bodies after eating chocolate. In extreme cases, a person may also develop eczema in different parts of the body, due to excessive chocolate consumption.
Sneezing and a runny nose is one of the most common signs of chocolate allergy. If you experience such conditions after eating chocolate, you should quit chocolate altogether.
Swelling in the throat, lips, and tongue is also a sign of a chocolate allergy. First of all, swelling will occur on the lips, followed by an itchy feeling in the mouth, throat, and tongue. The most severe condition of chocolate allergy is Anaphylaxis. If not addressed, it can also be life-threatening.
Sure, a chocolate allergy can be scary for some people, but luckily, it is a rare condition. Due to a lack of knowledge, people confuse sensitivity for allergy, and deprive themselves of some delicious chocolate-based desserts.
Sensitivity to chocolate takes place due to certain ingredients in chocolate rather than a weakness in the immune system. Chocolate sensitivity can lead to acne, bloating, rashes and headaches. While these symptoms are similar to allergic symptoms, you cannot confuse them with one another.
Some ingredients that cause chocolate sensitivity are as follows.
Milk chocolate contains a minimal amount of milk. However, some people are lactose intolerant, and therefore, they have a sensitivity to milk chocolate. Some instant symptoms of chocolate sensitivity include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, coughs, and nausea.
In extreme cases, a person may go into anaphylactic shock. To counter these problems, it is better to opt for milk-free versions of chocolate.
Soy Lecithin acts as an emulsifier, and its purpose is to keep all the ingredients in chocolate together at room temperature.
Some people aren’t allergic to chocolate, but they are allergic to the protein in soy, hence the sensitivity. Some common symptoms include skin rashes, runny nose, and digestive problems.
In some of our favorite chocolates, peanut butter and whole nuts are added for extra flavor. This is a small amount, but it is a major issue for people allergic to nuts in general.
If chocolate makes you react by sneezing or breaking out into hives, it is better to read the ingredients on the packaging the next time you buy chocolates.
The cocoa bean is a major ingredient in all chocolate products. Therefore, consuming chocolates with a high percentage of cocoa can trigger your sensitivity.
Should You Visit a Doctor?
Without a shadow of a doubt, if you are allergic to chocolate, you should consider visiting an allergist. The doctor will most probably run some blood tests, prick tests, and some diet elimination techniques to track the root cause of your allergy to chocolate.
The doctor will tell you whether you should quit chocolate altogether, or avoid some specific ingredients in chocolate. Chances are, you won’t be diagnosed with an allergy, and it will only be some mild sensitivity.
Is There a Substitute to Chocolate?
Carob is a healthy alternative to chocolate. Not only is it suitable for people that are allergic or sensitive to chocolate, but it also contains fiber. Moreover, it has low sugar content and is free of caffeine. Furthermore, it resembles chocolate in color, flavor, and taste.
Can We Cure a Chocolate Allergy?
Sadly, there is no magic pill to cure a chocolate allergy. However, you can minimize the symptoms by following your doctor’s advice.
What Is Cross-Reactivity?
Cross-reactivity is the term used to define an immune response due to certain compounds in chocolate that share some properties with coffee, tobacco, and ragweed. The caffeine content in chocolate is one of the major contributors to an allergic reaction.
Not everyone is a doctor, and therefore, we aren’t well-versed in matters related to food and the reactions it can conjure. The trick is to be careful about one’s health and visit the doctor once in a while for a general checkup.
One must also be vocal about their conditions while speaking to the doctor. If dark chocolate makes you sneeze, it’s likely that you’re just sensitive to one of the ingredients in dark chocolate.
About THE AUTHOR
Karen Sladyk has been studying and teaching cake decorating topics and culinary crafting projects for over 30 years. She has multiple awards-including first place finishes-in a variety of shows and conferences. She has made and or sold hundreds of dessert-themed gifts, masterpieces, and crafts. She enjoys the challenge of problem-solving chocolate issues in show pieces and making chocolate accessible to all people.Read more about Karen Sladyk