What is Angioedema?

Angioedema is a part of inflammation of the inferior layer of skin and tissue just under the skin or mucous membranes. Swelling can occur on the face, tongue, larynx, abdomen, or arms and legs. It is often associated with hives, which swell on top of the skin.


There are four key types of angioedema: allergic, idiopathic, drug-induced, and hereditary.

Allergic angioedema

This is the most common type and generally affects people who are allergic to a type of food, a drug, poison, pollen, or animal dander.

In severe cases, a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can occur. The throat can swell, making it difficult for the patient to breathe. Blood pressure can drop suddenly. This is a medical emergency.

This type of angioedema is neither chronic nor long-term. As soon as the person identifies which item is causing the allergic reaction, they can avoid it.

Drug-induced angioedema

Certain medications can cause angioedema. These comprise angiotensin changing enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, a treatment for hypertension, or high blood pressure.

According to Merck manuals, 30 percent of angioedema cases seen in the emergency department are related to the use of ACE inhibitors.

If your angioedema is due to the use of an ACE inhibitor, a healthcare provider may prescribe a different type of blood pressure medication.

Another common type of medication that can cause angioedema is the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) class, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. These are common pain relievers.

Idiopathic angioedema

If a disease is idiopathic, the cause is indistinct. In this condition, the Dermatologist may not be able to identify a specific reason of angioedema after looking at all the usual causes.

Hereditary angioedema

Some types of angioedema are inherited. This means that numerous people in the family may have symptoms.

In the case of hereditary angioedema, there is a problem with the C1 inhibitory protein. The patient will have low blood heights of the protein C1-esterase inhibitor (C1-1NH protein).

In this type of angioedema, incidents of angioedema will come and go over time.


The main symptom of angioedema is swelling that develops under the surface of the skin.

Swollen skin

Swelling caused by angioedema can develop suddenly or appear gradually over a few hours. It usually lasts a few days.

The swelling most often affects:

  • hands
  • feet
  • area around the eyes
  • lips and tongue
  • genitals

In severe cases, the inside of the throat or intestine may be affected.


Often, the swelling presents with a raised, itchy rash called urticaria (hives).

The rash usually evaporates up in a few days.

Otherwise, the skin over the swelling may feel tight and painful, but it appears normal.

Other symptoms

Less common symptoms of angioedema include:

  • labored breathing
  • red, irritated eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • tummy (abdominal) pain
  • Feeling sick
  • Diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • Fainting

Causes of Angioedema

Angioedema can have numerous different causes, but in many cases the exact cause is unknown.

Some of the main causes of angioedema are described below.


Angioedema is characteristically the result of an allergic reaction.

This is where the body errors a harmless substance, such as a certain food, for something dangerous. It releases chemicals in the body to attack the substance, causing the skin to swell.

Angioedema can be activated by an allergic reaction to:

certain types of foods, particularly nuts, shellfish, milk, and eggs

some types of medications, including some antibiotics, aspirin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen

insect stings and stings, particularly wasp and bee stings

Latex – A type of rubber secondhand to make medical gloves, balloons, and condoms.

Angioedema produced by allergies is known as allergic angioedema.


Some medications can cause angioedema, even if you are not allergic to the drug.

The swelling can occur shortly after starting a new drug, or possibly months or even years later.

Medications that can cause angioedema include:

angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril, and ramipril, which are rummage-sale to treat high blood pressure

ibuprofen and other types of NSAID pain relievers

angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs), such as andesartan, irbesartan, losartan, olmesartan, and valsartan, additional medicine used to treat high blood pressure

Angioedema caused by drugs is known as drug-induced angioedema.


In rare cases, angioedema is due to a genetic flaw that you inherit from your parents.

The failure affects the gene accountable for the production of a substance called a C1 esterase inhibitor. If you don’t have sufficient of this, the immune system can occasionally “fail” and cause angioedema.

Swelling can happen randomly or it can be caused by:

  • an injury or infection
  • dental surgery and treatment
  • stress
  • the pregnancy
  • certain pills, such as the birth control pill

The frequency with which the swelling occurs can vary. Some people knowledge it every week, while in others it may occur less than once a year.

Angioedema caused by a genetic responsibility is known as hereditary angioedema. If you have it, you have a 1 in 2 chance of transitory it on to your children.

Unknown cause

In many cases, it is not clear what causes angioedema.

One theory is that an unknown problem with the immune system could cause it to fail at times.

Certain triggers can lead to swelling, such as:

  • anxiety or stress
  • minor infections
  • hot or cold temperatures
  • strenuous exercise

In very rare cases, the swelling may be related with other medical conditions, such as lupus or lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).

Angioedema deprived of a clear cause is known as idiopathic angioedema.

Risk factor’s for Angioedema

Angioedema is common. You may be at increased risk for angioedema if:

  • Have had angioedema before
  • You have had other allergic reactions.
  • You have a family history of angioedema or hereditary angioedema.


Severe angioedema can be dangerous if the swelling causes the throat or tongue to block the airways.


To reduce the chance of hives or angioedema, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid known triggers. If you know what caused your hives, try avoiding that substance.
  • Take a shower and change clothes. If pollen or animal communication has caused hives in the past, bathe or shower and change your clothes if you are visible to pollen or animals.


To find out what type of angioedema you have, your doctor will examine you and discuss your symptoms. Blood tests may be done to get more details.

Treatment for Angioedema

Angioedema usually gets healthier on its own within a few days. If you need treatment, it may include:

Medications to relieve swelling and inflammation, such as oral antihistamines and corticosteroids.

Medicines to slow down your immune system if antihistamines and corticosteroids don’t work

Other medications that relieve pain and swelling, such as leukotriene antagonists (a group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Protein controllers in the blood if you have hereditary angioedema

If your angioedema is drug-induced, your doctor will usually switch you to another drug that he can handle better.

For a severe attack, you may need an injection of epinephrine (a type of adrenaline). For repeated strong attacks, you may need to carry a pen-like device so that you can inject epinephrine in an emergency

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