Angioedema is a swelling, similar to hives, but the swelling is beneath the skin rather than on the surface.
What causes angioedema?
The following may cause angioedema:
- Animal dander
- Exposure to water, sunlight, cold or heat
- Foods allergies
- Insect sting allergies
- Medications allergies
Hives and angioedema may also occur after infections or with other illnesses (including autoimmune disorders such as lupus, and leukemia and lymphoma).
In many cases, the cause of angioedema is never found.
A form of angioedema, called hereditary angiodema, runs in families and has different triggers, complications, and treatments.
What are the symptoms of angiodema?
- The main characteristic is sudden swelling below the skin surface. You may also develop welts or swelling on the surface of your skin.
- The swelling usually occurs around the eyes and lips. It may also be found on the hands, feet, and throat. The swelling may form a line or be more spread out.
- The welts are painful and may be itchy. They turn pale and swell if irritated. The deeper swelling of angioedema may also be painful.
Other symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Breathing difficulty
- Swollen eyes and mouth
- Swollen lining of the eyes (chemosis)
How is angioedema diagnosed?
Your allergist will look at your skin and ask you if you have been exposed to any irritating substances. A physical exam might reveal abnormal sounds (stridor) when you breathe in if the throat is affected.
Who gets angioedema?
Hives and angioedema may occur after infections or with other illnesses (including autoimmune disorders such as lupus, and leukemia and lymphoma).
A form of angioedema, hereditary angioedema, runs in families and has different triggers, complications, and treatments.
What is the treatment for angiodema?
Treatment is determined on an individual basis as prescribed by your physician. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our allergy and asthma specialists.
Is there a cure for angioedema?
Angioedema may be uncomfortable, but is usually harmless except in the case where it affects breathing and it typically goes away in a few days.
What are the complications of angioedema?
Complications can involve an anaphylactic reaction or life-threatening airway blockage (if swelling occurs in the throat).
Call your allergist if:
- Angioedema does not respond to treatment
- It is severe
- You have never had angioedema before
Go to the emergency room or call 911if you have:
- Abnormal breathing sounds (stridor)
- Difficulty breathing
How can you prevent angiodema?
To prevent angioedema:
- Avoid irritating the affected area.
- Stay away from known allergens.
- Never take medications that are not prescribed for you.