Q: Does chocolate aggravate asthma?

A: It is possible for chocolate to aggravate asthma, but in most cases the trouble does not come from an allergy to chocolate.

Chocolate can worsen acid reflux. Chocolate can relax the sphincter (muscular ring) between the esophagus and stomach, causing the sphincter to open. This sends stomach acid up and into the throat. Acid reflux is a very common trigger for asthma.

If you notice that your asthma is worse after eating chocolate, you can avoid chocolate. Other well-known triggers include alcohol, fatty foods, smoking, and food that contain peppermint. People with acid reflux can improve their asthma symptoms by using an acid-blocking medication, such as omeprazole (Prilosec).

Depending upon the chocolate product, additives or contaminating proteins (such as milk protein or traces of nuts) might be present. Although allergy to chocolate is rare, allergies to nuts and other ingredients can occur.