Angioedema is the medical name for abnormal swelling of a specific body part, brought on by blood vessels leaking fluid under the skin and can develop in one or more areas of the body. Angioedema often develops after an allergic reaction, such as a flare-up from an insect bite, a food allergy, or a drug allergy. Even strong allergies to animal dander or pollens might cause this condition to develop. Angioedema may also occur as part of a condition known as "chronic urticaria and angioedema," in which patients suffer from hives and swelling frequently over an extended period. Chronic urticaria and angioedema are typically not due to allergies.
A unique type of angioedema known as C-1 esterase inhibitor deficiency can result in recurrent swelling of both internal and external body parts. It is caused by a deficiency in a part of our immune system called the complement system. Most of these instances are hereditary and are known as hereditary angioedema (HAE).
At Allergy Partners, we can help determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend personalized treatment methods to specifically target the type of angioedema you’re experiencing and the areas in need of relief.
Noticing the signs of angioedema can help you determine when it is time to seek care from an allergist. It is often, but not always, seen in combination with hives, although the affected area is usually described as more painful or uncomfortable, rather than itchy.
Angioedema can cause swelling that affects the eyes, lips, tongue, hands, feet, and/or other body parts. The symptoms can last for hours or even days at a time. Internal swelling, swelling of the throat/airway and severe pain are potential symptoms of C-1 esterase inhibitor deficiency and should be treated as a medical emergency and be evaluated by an allergist.
The first step in determining the origin of angioedema is with a thorough review of medical history and physical examination administered by an allergist. Chronic episodes of swelling are difficult to diagnose, but skin testing can be used to look into angioedema caused by insect stings, foods, drugs, or other allergens.
In some cases, an oral challenge test can help determine the exact cause of allergic angioedema. It may also be advised that you undergo additional laboratory testing to identify potential allergic triggers and assess for rarer causes of angioedema, including HAE. These tests help rule out other conditions while providing valuable information on how best to manage angioedema in each person.
Four Steps to Relief
Planning Your First Visit
Schedule an appointment at your local office and fill out our pre-registration and medical history forms to help minimize any wait time when you arrive.
Your First Visit
Your initial visit will last between two and three hours and consist of an initial consultation, evaluation, and comprehensive exam. We’ll create a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.
Diagnostics and Testing
We may complete one or more tests to better understand the cause of your symptoms. Common tests include skin testing, pulmonary testing, and blood testing.
Following the evaluation and testing, we’ll provide a comprehensive diagnosis and implement a personalized treatment plan that will deliver relief.
Rest, ice, and antihistamines can be used to treat mild episodes of angioedema, but more severe or persistent cases may necessitate stronger medications, such as corticosteroids. With the development of new angioedema medications, patients with C-1 esterase inhibitor deficiency can now be treated, as well. These drugs work to either replace the missing enzyme or stop the process that causes angioedema entirely.
At Allergy Partners, we take a comprehensive approach to treating allergic reactions and symptoms. While the aforementioned treatments can help reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms, lifestyle adjustments - such as reducing exposure to allergens or avoiding certain foods - can make a big difference in managing angioedema for many patients.
If angioedema is due to allergic triggers immunotherapy may help to prevent future episodes from occurring.
The treatment of angioedema is tailored to meet the needs of each person and is based on the medical history and findings from various tests.
The Allergy Partners Difference
Our physicians have extensive qualifications and experience in analyzing potential triggers and causes of angioedema. With effective and cutting-edge treatment and testing strategies, our allergists are trained to deliver individualized care to each patient.