What Is Angioedema?
Angioedema is a
form of severe swelling beneath the skin’s surface. In some cases, the swelling
occurs along with the appearance of hives. This is why angioedema is sometimes
referred to as “giant hives.” Hives are itchy, red welts that develop on the
surface of the skin.
angioedema and hives are typically caused by an allergic reaction to food or
medication. Other substances, such as pollen, pet dander, and insect bites, may
also trigger angioedema. In very rare cases, the swelling can be a symptom of a
more serious health condition, such as Hodgkin’s disease. Some areas of the body, such as
the face and limbs, are more prone to swelling than others.
angioedema is passed from a parent to a child through genetic transmission, the
condition is known as hereditary angioedema. Hereditary angioedema has different causes, symptoms, treatments,
and complications than acquired angioedema.
isn’t a serious medical condition and doesn’t leave any lasting marks. It
usually goes away on its own, even without treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Angioedema?
common symptom of angioedema is swelling beneath the surface of the skin. It
may occur on the feet, hands, eyes, and lips. In more severe cases, the
swelling can spread to other parts of the body. Angioedema may or may not be
accompanied by swelling and welts on the surface of the skin.
of angioedema may include stomach cramping and discolored patches or rash on
the hands, arms, and feet. In rare cases, people with angioedema may experience
a swollen throat, hoarseness, and difficulty breathing.
Call 911 or go
to an emergency room right away if you’re having trouble breathing. This may be
a sign of a serious medical condition that requires prompt treatment.
What Causes Angioedema?
typically the result of an adverse allergic reaction. When you have an allergic
reaction, your body produces histamine, which makes your blood vessels swell.
allergens can trigger angioedema:
oak or ivy
types of foods
also develop as a result of an infection or illness, such as lupus or leukemia. Hereditary angioedema occurs in
people with a family history of the condition.
Who Is at Risk for Angioedema?
factors can increase your risk of developing angioedema. These include:
- a previous occurrence of
angioedema or hives
- a previous allergic reaction
- a family history of angioedema or
- sudden temperature changes
- stress or anxiety
How Is Angioedema Diagnosed?
will perform a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms and past medical
history. During the exam, your doctor will examine your areas of swelling and
your welts if any are present. They may also listen to your breathing to see if
your throat has been affected. It’s important to tell your doctor if you’ve recently
been exposed to certain substances that have triggered an allergic reaction in
the past. This may help your doctor determine the specific cause of your reaction.
will perform a series of blood tests if hereditary angioedema is suspected. These
These tests measure the levels of certain proteins in the blood. Low levels can
indicate a health problem related to inflammation and swelling.
How Is Angioedema Treated?
mild symptoms of angioedema may not need treatment. However, those with
moderate or severe symptoms may require certain medications to help relieve
intense itching and swelling. These medicines can include:
remedies may also help relieve symptoms. These include:
- applying cool, wet compresses to help soothe the skin and prevent scratching
- adding baking soda to a cool bath to relieve itching
- wearing loose cotton clothing to avoid further skin
What Is the Long-Term Outlook for Someone
In most cases,
angioedema is a harmless condition and will disappear within one to three days.
However, angioedema can be dangerous when the swelling occurs near the throat. A
swollen throat or tongue can block your airway and make it very difficult to
breathe. Severe angioedema may also cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
How Do I Prevent Angioedema?
The best way
to prevent angioedema is to avoid known and suspected allergens. You should also
try not to irritate areas on the body that have been previously affected.
Taking these preventive measures can help lower your risk of having another
episode in the future.