Family, Internal Medicine, General Medical Questions/Intolerance or Allergy?



Since I was very young I have never been able to eat Chocolate without feeling bad. The richer the chocolate the stronger the reaction.  The problem is genetic because my grandpa and my dad cannot eat Chocolate. The reaction becomes stronger the older someone becomes in my family. My dad when exposed to Chocolate, his arm starts hurting, he gets nauseous, and a migraine develops making him sick for at least 3 days. The last time I ate chocolate I became very nauseous and had a migraine that made me sick for one day. None of us eat any chocolate intentionally now. I am 35 years old and have not eaten chocolate since I was 21 years old. If I am around chocolate the smell gives me a headache but nothing as severe as ingesting it. A doctor told my dad to avoid chocolate because it causes his blood vessels to constrict giving him symptoms of a mini stroke. I know by family history that my reaction would be more severe now than it was at age 21. We cannot eat any type of chocolate  including white chocolate. Do you think this is an intolerance or an allergy to chocolate? Can you be allergic to Chocolate not just ingredients in chocolate? I get get allergy shots and see an allergist but we have not yet looked at food allergies. Right now he is addressing the allergies that cause breathing problems and sinus problems caused by unavoidable allergens. I can avoid chocolate which is the only food that I know I react to.  I would like to know if this sounds like an allergic reaction or a chocolate intolerance and would it be something I should address with my general physician or allergy doctor?

Thanks for your time and attention,

Good question, complicated answer..... these food intolerances are often called food allergies, and sometimes food addictions because a lot of people tend to crave the foods that make them feel bad.   It is an allergy that is causing an unusual reaction...... chocolate is a trigger for migraines (in some people) because their bodies react by dilating a blood vessel in the brain, it stretches and hurts, ie., a migraine.  So it is both, an allergy and intolerance.... in current day, we can't desensitize you to chocolate, you just have to avoid it.   You can ask your regular doctors, but there aren't therapies to eat your chocolate without consequences.  

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Robert Borucki


I am an expert in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine.


I am trained and boarded in Family Medicine and have also worked extensively in emergency medicine for over 10 years.

BA in Natural Sciences; MD in 1986\borucki

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