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What Is Angioedema? A Comprehensive Guide

Angioedema is a medical condition characterized by rapid swelling of the skin and mucous membranes. It is often caused by an allergic reaction, but it can also be hereditary or caused by certain medications or medical conditions. Angioedema can affect any part of the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, legs, and genitals. In severe cases, it can cause difficulty breathing and can be life-threatening.

In this comprehensive article by the specialists at the asthma and allergies center in Maryland, we will help you explore more about angioedema. So keep scrolling!

Types of Angioedema

There are several types of angioedema, including:

  • Allergic angioedema
  • Hereditary angioedema (HAE)
  • Drug-induced angioedema
  • Idiopathic angioedema

What are the symptoms of angioedema?

The symptoms of angioedema can vary depending on the location and severity of the swelling. Common symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the skin and mucous membranes
  • Redness and warmth of the affected area
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
  • Abdominal pain (if the swelling occurs in the intestines)

What causes angioedema?

Angioedema can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Genetic mutations (in the case of HAE)
  • Allergic reactions to food, medication, insect bites, or other allergens
  • Certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors
  • Medical conditions, such as lupus or thyroid disease
  • Infections, such as sinusitis or tonsillitis

How do doctors diagnose angioedema?

Angioedema can be diagnosed by a doctor based on your symptoms,  physical examination, and medical history. Furthermore, your doctor may advise additional tests such as:

  • Complete blood profile to check for underlying medical conditions and presence of infection. It also helps reveal what organisms cause infections, leading to angioedema.
  • Allergy tests to determine the cause of the angioedema
  • Imaging tests, such as X-rays or CT scans, to rule out other conditions

How is angioedema treated?

The treatment of angioedema depends on the type of condition, underlying cause, and severity of the condition. Common treatments include:

  • Medications
    • Antihistamines to relieve itching and reduce the risk of an allergic reaction
    • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling
    • Epinephrine injections to treat severe allergic reactions
    • Medications to treat underlying medical conditions like lupus, or thyroid disease
  • Avoiding triggers, such as certain foods or medications
  • Home remedies 
    • Applying cold compresses to reduce swelling and itching
    • Taking oatmeal baths to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation
    • Using topical creams or ointments to reduce inflammation and itching
    • Avoiding scratching or rubbing the affected area
    • Stress management through meditation and Yoga

How can you lower your risk of developing angioedema?

Preventing angioedema involves avoiding triggers and taking steps to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Some ways to prevent angioedema include:

  • Avoiding certain foods, medications, or insect bites that can trigger an allergic reaction
  • Wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen when going outside
  • Avoiding extreme temperatures and humidity
  • Keeping a food diary to track any food allergies
  • Avoiding stress and getting enough sleep

When to seek urgent medical attention?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Abdominal pain or vomiting
  • High-grade fever with  chills, and severe body aches 
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations


Angioedema is a medical condition related to your skin that is characterized by rapid swelling of the skin and mucous membranes. It can be caused by an allergic reaction, genetic mutation, certain medications, or underlying medical conditions. While it can be uncomfortable and unsightly, there are several treatments and home remedies available to relieve the symptoms. If you experience any severe symptoms or if your angioedema does not improve with treatment, seek medical attention immediately.

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