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Angioedema is localized swelling of the tissues that affects the deeper skin layers and other organs. It can develop anywhere but typically affects the skin around the eyes and mouth.

In most cases, angioedema is the result of an allergic reaction to certain foods or medications. It can also develop after an infection or linked to a chronic ailment such as lupus or certain forms of cancer. The severity of angioedema can vary from mild to severe.

What are the indications?

It can develop anywhere but typically affects the skin around the eyes and mouth.

Common skin symptoms

An individual might experience these symptoms daily and there are times that they can be severe.

  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Pain or discomfort over the affected region
  • Sensitivity to touch in the affected area
  • Warmth, redness or swelling of the skin

What are the usual causes?

Angioedema is typically brought about by an allergic reaction. As part of a reaction, the body releases histamine which is a chemical that results to swelling. In some cases, it can be hereditary and triggered by gene mutations.

The non-hereditary causes might be due to various conditions or events such as:

  • Engaging in prolonged exercise or physical activity
  • Stress
  • Allergies to certain foods, medications, dander, insect bites or stings and pollen

Management of angioedema

Angioedema is not usually a serious condition and eventually settles without requiring treatment. In severe cases that involves difficulty breathing, hospitalization involving respiratory support is required.

The usual treatment options include the following:

  • Antihistamines either prescription or over-the-counter depending on the severity
  • Application of a cool, damp cloth on the affected areas
  • Corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation
  • Epinephrine for severe reactions

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on angioedema is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the causes of angioedema by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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