- This is a syndrome of swelling in the deep layers of the skin. Lip swelling is usually prominent. It is often associated with Urticaria (hives).
- Angioedema is often caused by an
allergic type reaction (i.e., the body's defense system
mistakenly goes off, initiating reactions in the body). This
occurs because histamine released from mast cells starts a
cascade of events that result in allergy and
- Lip swelling
- Eyelid swelling
- Tongue swelling
- Intermittent sharp abdominal pain
- History of sudden onset of shortness
- Foods (i.e., shellfish, eggs,
nuts, chocolate, tomatoes, milk, and berries)
- Bee stings
- Dermographism (a form of Urticaria)
- Inherited forms (genetic):
hereditary angioedema or HEA
- Complement mediated (an immune
- Medications (nonallergic, but
direct cause, such as ACE inhibitors)
- Other anti-inflammatories
- Emotional stress
- Swelling of lips, eyelid or tongue
-- usually resolves within 72 hours.
- There is itching, but very little aching.
- Hives may or may not be present.
- Stridor (wheezing in neck area)
- Laboratory findings may include:
- Abnormal complement levels (i.e.,
C4, C1 assay may help in diagnosing HAE)
- Vasculitis workup may be done
(ANA, RA, CBC, ESR) if no other etiology for angioedema is
- Rarely, skin biopsy is
- Antihistamines (e.g., Hydroxyzine
for acute attacks)
- Doxepin (an older antidepressant)
helps with chronic (continuous) form
- Calcium channel
- Plasmapheresis (exchange of plasma
in blood) used for rare unresponsive chronic
- Angioedema can be life threatening.
Seek emergency medical
- Identify and eliminate causative
agents. Special diets may be
- Angioedema often involves complicated immune chemical pathways. Often your primary care physician will need to refer you to allergy specialists in order to properly treat your condition.
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