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Can Chocolate Cause Swelling in Joints?

By Diane Marks ; Updated August 14, 2017

It’s an odd event if after eating chocolate you suddenly realize that your joints are swollen, but there may be a connection. If you’re allergic to chocolate, you can develop joint swelling and pain in different parts of your body. If you notice that joint swelling is a common result from eating chocolate, stop consuming all products that contain chocolate until you can be evaluated by a medical doctor and an allergist. Most chocolate allergies cause mild to severe symptoms, varying from person to person.

Chocolate Allergy

A genuine chocolate allergy is an immune reaction, or hypersensitivity, to cocoa. Cocoa is the main ingredient that makes chocolate products and is made from the seeds of the cocoa tree. The seeds are fermented, roasted and ground for use in cooking. Cocoa originated in Central America but is now grown in most tropical climates globally. In order for your condition to be considered an allergic reaction, your body must produce immunoglobulin E antibodies, or IgE. Antibodies are disease-fighting agents that typically fight off infectious organisms. Immunoglobulin E antibodies are only created during an allergic reaction.

Joint Swelling

Joint swelling from a chocolate allergy may show up hours after you’ve eaten the chocolate product. During an allergic reaction, the IgE antibodies trigger mast cells to produce histamine in soft tissues. Histamine is a normal chemical found in the body, but during an allergic reaction, excessive amounts cause problems. Histamine that is released in the soft tissues between your joints will cause inflammation and swelling. The excessive pressure that builds between the two bones of your joint will cause pain in that area.

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Consideration

While it is possible to have an allergy to cocoa, most cases of chocolate allergies are related to other ingredients in most chocolate products, such as milk, eggs, soy, peanuts and tree nuts. These typical ingredients are considered some of the most common foods that cause allergic reactions. If you have a known food allergy, you need to read the label of every chocolate product before consuming it.

Treatment

Treating swelling in the joints from a chocolate allergy begins with undergoing allergy tests. Allergy tests involve injecting your skin with different suspected allergens, such as cocoa, milk and nut proteins. If your skin becomes inflamed and red, you are allergic to that substance. If diagnosed with a chocolate allergy, you will need to eliminate chocolate and any food that contains cocoa.

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