Food Allergy


Food Allergy Threshold

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Allergy & Asthma Institute of SE Michigan

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Food Allergy Threshold


What is threshold? Per the oxford dictionary- a limit below which a stimulus causes no reaction.

The threshold is different for everyone, and for every different allergen.  The allergen is a protein and it has to be introduced into the body to elicit a reaction.

  • Ingestion
  • Skin contact
  • Inhalation
  • Contact to mucus membranes

Just about everyone can have a reaction if enough of the protein is introduced, no matter what way it gets into the body.

In regards to "inhalant allergy,"  the person usually has a much lower threshold and therefore the tiny amount of allergen being inhaled can cause a reaction.  This reaction would take place if similar amounts are introduced into the body by a different route. To reach threshold the allergen has to be introduced into the body.  If the protein does not become aerosolized you can not inhale it, therefore you wont have a reaction by breathing.  I bring this point up because many people are overly cautious or do not take enough precautions.  For example, peanut butter will never cause an "airborne reaction"  but walking across peanut shells in a small enclosed room could.


Threshold is also a moving target. Threshold is never static as there may be many factors that could lower your threshold.

  • Other allergies- mild allergic reaction already started (example- ragweed allergy in the fall)
  • Fever
  • Exercise
  • Menstruation
  • Viral illness

 In the case of food allergies that have the potential of progressing to a life threatening reaction (peanut, treenut, fish, crustaceans) or if you ever had a serious reaction to any other food allergy, strict avoidance is needed.

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Allergy and Asthma Institute of SE Michigan        Comprehensive Food Allergy Clinic

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