Learn About Angioedema

What is the definition of Angioedema?

Angioedema is swelling that is similar to hives, but the swelling is under the skin instead of on the surface.

Hives are often called welts. They are a surface swelling. It is possible to have angioedema without hives.

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What are the alternative names for Angioedema?

Angioneurotic edema; Welts; Allergic reaction - angioedema; Hives - angioedema

What are the causes of Angioedema?

Angioedema may be caused by an allergic reaction. During the reaction, histamine and other chemicals are released into the bloodstream. The body releases histamine when the immune system detects a foreign substance called an allergen.

In most cases, the cause of angioedema is never found.

The following may cause angioedema:

  • Animal dander (scales of shed skin)
  • Exposure to water, sunlight, cold or heat
  • Foods (such as berries, shellfish, fish, nuts, eggs, and milk)
  • Insect bites
  • Medicines (drug allergy) such as antibiotics (penicillin and sulfa drugs), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and blood pressure medicines (ACE inhibitors)
  • Pollen

Hives and angioedema may also occur after infections or with other illnesses (including autoimmune disorders such as lupus, and leukemia and lymphoma).

A form of angioedema runs in families and has different triggers, complications, and treatments. This is called hereditary angioedema.

What are the symptoms of Angioedema?

The main symptom is sudden swelling below the skin surface. Welts or swelling on the surface of the skin can also develop.

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. This is known as hives (urticaria). 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)
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What are the current treatments for Angioedema?

Mild symptoms may not need treatment. Moderate to severe symptoms may need to be treated. Breathing difficulty is an emergency condition.

People with angioedema should:

  • Avoid any known allergen or trigger that causes their symptoms.
  • Avoid any medicines, herbs, or supplements that are not prescribed by a provider.

Cool compresses or soaks can relieve pain.

Medicines used to treat angioedema include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines (corticosteroids)
  • Epinephrine shots (people with a history of severe symptoms can carry these with them)
  • Inhaler medicines that help open up the airways

If the person has trouble breathing, seek medical help right away. A severe, life-threatening airway blockage may occur if the throat swells.

Who are the top Angioedema Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Allergy and Immunology

University of California San Diego Health System

La Jolla 8899 University Center Ln

8899 University Center Ln 
San Diego, CA 92122

Marc Riedl is an Allergy and Immunologist in San Diego, California. Dr. Riedl has been practicing medicine for over 24 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Angioedema. He is also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Angioedema, Hereditary Angioedema, Hives, and Asthma. He is licensed to treat patients in California. Dr. Riedl is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in

Berlin, BE, DE 

Marcus Maurer is in Berlin, Germany. Maurer is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Angioedema. He is also highly rated in 22 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Papular Urticaria, Hives, Angioedema, and Cold Urticaria.

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Highly rated in

Hungarian Angioedema Center Of Reference And Excellence

Budapest, BU, HU 

Henriette Farkas is in Budapest, Hungary. Farkas is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Angioedema. She is also highly rated in 9 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Hereditary Angioedema, Angioedema, Hives, and Protein Deficiency.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Angioedema?

Angioedema that does not affect the breathing may be uncomfortable. It is usually harmless and goes away in a few days.

When should I contact a medical professional for Angioedema?

Call your provider if:

  • Angioedema does not respond to treatment
  • It is severe
  • You have never had angioedema before

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if there are any of the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal breathing sounds
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Fainting
What are the latest Angioedema Clinical Trials?
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 3, Three-way Crossover Trial to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Two Dose Levels of KVD900, an Oral Plasma Kallikrein Inhibitor, for On-Demand Treatment of Angioedema Attacks in Adolescent and Adult Patients With Hereditary Angioedema Type I or II
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COrticosteroids in acUte uRticAria in emerGency dEpartment
What are the Latest Advances for Angioedema?
Prophylactic therapy with subcutaneous C1-inhibitor is associated with sustained symptom control in patients with hereditary angioedema.
Case Report: Safety and Efficacy of Omalizumab in a 13-Year-Old Patient With Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria and Type 1 Diabetes.
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How satisfactory is on-demand icatibant from the patients' perspective in real life?
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : February 02, 2020
Published By : Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Barksdale AN, Muelleman RL. Allergy, hypersensitivity, and anaphylaxis. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 109.

Dinulos JGH. Urticaria, angioedema, and pruritus. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 6.

Dreskin SC. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 237.