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Overview

Angioedema - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Angioedema ?

Angioedema is a type of dermatological condition which causes swelling under the skin. The condition is caused in reaction to medication or an alien object which one is allergic to. Generally the condition is not serious but it can be a recurring condition in some patients causing fatalities complications in some cases.

Causes of Angioedema

The exact cause of Angioedema hasn’t been discovered but scientists have ascertained that it can be caused due to many factors. Some commonly observed ones include:

  • Allergies and Medications: Oftentimes the condition is a result of an allergic reaction. In such reactions the body’s immune system mistakes harmless substances for something harmful. As a result, it secretes certain chemicals within the body to counter the substance causing different reactions like sneezing, coughing and in this case swelling under the skin. Common allergic substances include foods such as nuts, eggs and milks. Also insect stings, use of latex (as in condoms) and certain types of medications such as antibiotics and NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) lead to this condition.
  • Genetics: In very rare episodes, angioedema may occur due to a genetic fault which you may inherit from your parents. Studies have found that the gene is responsible for the production of a substance known as C1 esterase inhibitor, the lack of which causes immune system to misfire and lead to angioedema.
  • Unknown factors: In addition to the above, other factors such as severe anxiety and stress for a prolonged period, infections, extended exposure to hot and cold temperatures and strenuous physical exercises can be also responsible for the condition.

Common symptoms include swelling in the regions of the hand, feet, eyes and the genitals. A person suffering from the condition may also encounter itchy rashes in the form of hives, which is an associated symptom. You shouldn’t delay a visit to a general practitioner if you come across such symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Knowing the cause of angioedema and its symptoms is vital to the treatment one would require. There is no sole test which would pinpoint the exact cause of the disease. Some of the tests and exams doctors usually suggest include

  • Evaluating your symptoms and medical history
  • Tests for allergies and blood tests

Upon diagnosis and careful evaluation, your doctor may suggest antihistamines, steroid medicines and adrenaline auto injectors. You should consult a general practitioner if you encounter or entertain suspicion of angioedema. The doctor after relevant diagnosis would direct you to a dermatologist if required.

Treatable by medical professional Require medical diagnosis Lab test always required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks
Symptoms
Repetitive episodes of swelling, frequently of the face, lips, tongue, limbs, and genitals Severe abdominal pain (at times) Slightly decreased sensation in the affected areas

Popular Health Tips

Angioedema - 11 Reasons Why It Can Happen!

MD - Dermatology, MBBS
Dermatologist, Surat
Angioedema - 11 Reasons Why It Can Happen!

The body’s reacts to anything suspicious by developing an allergic reaction. Some of the common substances inducing this reaction include certain food substances, pollen, insect bites and certain metals. This body recognises these suspicious substances as antigens and produces what is known as antibodies. These produce various allergic reactions in the body ranging from something as minor as a skin rash to something drastically fatal as respiratory distress and even death.

Features:

  1. Angioedema is one of the most severe forms of allergic reactions.
  2. Translated literally as swelling of the blood vessels, angioedema causes swelling of the blood vessels in the underlying layers and this can lead to the formation of giant hives.
  3. The hives or rashes are extremely itchy, reddish, and can vary in shape (oval or circular). The hives also are warm and painful when touched.
  4. Angioedema usually affects the skin but can have more severe effects like blocking the airway and leading to respiratory distress

Causes: Angioedema is usually caused by one of the following:

  1. Insect bites or stings
  2. People with allergies to foods like peanuts, eggs, milk, shellfish, chocolates, tree nuts, etc.
  3. Pollen, animal dander, latex, poison ivy, and other common allergens
  4. Medicines like penicillin, aspirin, ibuprofen, and some anti-hypertensives
  5. Autoimmune skin disorders like lupus
  6. Reaction to incompatible blood transfusions
  7. Weather conditions like extremes of cold, heat, or pressure
  8. Infections like hepatitis, cytomegalovirus infections, Epstein-Barr infections, etc.
  9. Conditions like leukaemia and thyroid disorders
  10. Extreme emotional stress
  11. Genetic angioedema, inherited from parents by children, which can last forever

Risk factors: Though hives usually develop without any warning signs, the following are some risk factors for developing angioedema.

  1. Previous history of allergies
  2. Predisposition to develop allergic reactions (overactive immune system)
  3. Genetic history of allergies, especially of angioedema

Diagnosis:

  1. In first-time patients, a detailed history with deep dive into similar instances in the past will be done
  2. A physical exam to check for missed hives (like the back) is then done
  3. Allergy testing may also be required to test if a person has a high predisposition to allergies
  4. Blood testing to check for eosinophils, which is usually high in patients with allergies, is done.
  5. Allergy testing to identify the trigger agent may be done if trigger is not known. This will help in preventing further attacks.
  6. If genetic angioedema is suspected, C1 esterase inhibitor test and complement particles are also checked.

Treatment:
Non-medical treatment including loose clothing, cool compresses, and copiously moisturizing to reduce dryness and itching. This is usually sufficient in majority of the cases.
Medical: Antihistamines like cetirizine and loratadine are the next line of treatment. Very severe cases may require steroids like prednisone. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

4107 people found this helpful

Angioedema - An Overview

MBBS(Hons), MD (Gold Medalist) Dermatology
Dermatologist, Kolkata
Angioedema - An Overview

Allergic reactions are the body’s way of responding to foreign substances. The body recognizes these substances (be it food, pollens, insect bites, etc.) as antigens and produces antibodies. These antibodies can cause various reactions depending on the severity of the allergen, be it skin rash, hives, or angioedema. In severe cases, there could be swelling of the tongue and the respiratory tract, leading to choking of the airways.

Literally, angioedema means swelling of the blood vessels. These are located in the underlying layers of the skin and their swelling can lead to formation of giant hives, which can be extremely itchy, reddish, and oval or circular in shape. The affected area I usually warm and painful to touch.

Causes

Angioedema is caused due to the following:

  1. Food allergies including eggs, peanuts, shellfish, milk, tree nuts, chocolates, etc.

  2. Insect bites or stings

  3. Pollen, latex, animal dander, poison ivy, and other common allergens

  4. Medications like aspirin, penicillin, ibuprofen, and some blood pressure medicines

  5. In response to blood transfusions

  6. Auto-immune disorders like lupus

  7. Conditions like leukemia and thyroid disorders

  8. Infections like hepatitis, cytomegalovirus infections, Epstein-Barr infections, etc.

  9. Weather conditions like extremes of cold, heat, or pressure

  10. Extreme emotional stress

  11. Genetic angioedema, passed on from parents to children, which could last forever

While hives usually develop without any warning, the following condition puts a person at risk of developing angioedema.

  1. Predisposition to allergic reactions (highly active immune system)

  2. Previous history of allergies

  3. Genetic history of allergies or angioedema

Most angioedema cases are limited to the skin and hives, but there could be severe cases leading to respiratory distress.

Diagnosis

If it is the first instance of hives, the doctor would ask detailed questions about similar occurrence in the past. They would also check if there are similar hives on other parts of the body like the back, which you may have missed. If required, this examination is followed by allergy testing and blood testing. The allergy testing will help identify if you are allergic to some of the common things which cause allergy. The blood test will look for your eosinophil count, which is usually high in people prone to allergies. C1 esterase inhibitor test and complement particles also can be checked, if there is suspicion of genetic angioedema.

Treatment

This would depend on the severity of symptoms

  1. In case of angioedema, admission in hospital may be needed.
  2. Tracheostomy may also become essential to save patients life.
  3. Vigorous therapy with intravenous medications like steroid, antihistamines and others may be needed.
  4. Under medical treatment, antihistamines like cetirizine and loratadine are prescribed. However, severe cases may require steroids like prednisolone.

Prevention

Once you know what caused it, avoid exposure to these substances and further attacks can be prevented. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor.

2152 people found this helpful

What Are Hives? What Causes Hives?

MD - Skin,VD & Lepxsy, M.B.B.S.
Dermatologist, Delhi
What Are Hives? What Causes Hives?

Hives are a common allergic reaction that appears in the form of swollen, red bumps or patches on the skin. These usually appear suddenly and cause itchiness. In some cases, it may also sting or burn. Hives can affect any part of the body including the face, ears, tongue, lips and throat. Hives are usually small in size but may grow as large as the size of a dinner plate. In some cases, hives may also join together to form plaques.

Hives are caused as a result of the production of histamines in the body that make plasma leak out of blood vessels in the skin. These histamines are released as a result of an allergic reaction, exposure to chemicals, insect bites, sunlight or adverse reactions to certain medicines. There are four main types of hives:

  1. Acute Urticaria: These hives usually last for less than 6 weeks. They are triggered by insect bites, allergic reactions to food, latex, medicines or by exposure to infections. The most common food items that trigger this type of hives are chocolates, nuts, fish, tomatoes, eggs, soy, wheat and milk. Aspirin and other medicines like ibuprofen, ACE inhibitors and codeine can also trigger these hives.

  2. Chronic Urticaria: Hives that last for longer than 6 weeks fall into the category of chronic urticaria. IT is harder to find what triggers a case of chronic urticaria than it is for acute urticaria. Along with the triggers mentioned above, hormonal disorders, tumours, chronic infections and immune system disorders can also trigger these hives.

  3. Physical Urticaria: Hives caused as a result of physically stimulating skin are called physical urticaria. This includes sudden exposure to heat or cold, sunlight, vibrations, pressure, exercise etc. These hives usually resolve themselves within an hour and only affect the part of the skin that has been stimulated.

  4. Dermatographism: Hives caused by scratching or firmly stroking the skin fall under this fourth category.

Hives can also be genetic in nature. Some people suffer from hereditary angioedema which is a painful swelling under the skin.

Hives caused by an allergic reaction can recur and hence if you suffer from hives you should try and identify the allergen. This can be done by taking an allergen test in a hospital or by changing aspects of your diet and studying the results. Hives are usually treated with antihistamines but in some cases, steroids may also be needed. However, it is usually nothing to worry about. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.

2792 people found this helpful

All About Hives

Diploma In Dermatology And Venerology And Leprosy (DDVL), MBBS
Dermatologist, Rewari
All About Hives

If stressed, consuming certain food and medications can trigger skin rashes. This kind of rash is called hives. It is also known as urticaria. Anyone can be affected by hives, at least 20% of people are affected by hives at some time or the other in their lives. The itching could be severe or mild. It starts as a patch of scaly white skin that develops into red welts over time. To make sure the itching does not worsen, scratching, emotional stress, alcoholic drinks and exercise should be avoided.

Symptoms:

  1. Itchy bumps that are raised and are either red or flesh coloured
  2. If the hive is pressed in the middle, the skin whitens this symptom is called blanching.
  3. The hive formation can appear anywhere, disappear and then reappear somewhere else.

Common Triggers:

  1. Certain food like shellfish, eggs, peanuts and other nuts
  2. Certain medicines like antibiotics, ibuprofen and aspirin
  3. Insect bites or stings
  4. Physical causes like pressure, sun exposure, cold, exercise and heat
  5. Latex
  6. Blood transfusions
  7. Bacterial infections
  8. Pet allergens
  9. Viral infections like the common cold, hepatitis and infectious mononucleosis
  10. Certain plants like poison ivy and poison oak
  11. Pollen

Treatment:
There is no distinct cure for hives. But you can control its symptoms in the following ways:

  1. Antihistamines help in blocking histamines, which cause the allergy symptoms. Non sedating or low sedating Antihistamines will be mostly recommended by your doctor.
  2. If episodes of hives are several, it may require limited treatment with prednisone. Prednisone will be able to lessen the symptoms.
  3. If the symptoms get severe enough so much so that it swells up your tongue and you have problem breathing, then the doctor might prescribe an epinephrine. However, these symptoms can mean another thing, an anaphylaxis shock. Epinephrine is the only treatment for an anaphylaxis shock.

Prevention:
If what caused hives to break out is figured out, then measures should be taken to avoid or eliminate the triggers.

  1. Avoid eating food items that triggered the symptoms in the first place
  2. If harsh soaps, frequent bathing cause hives, they should be avoided
  3. Tight clothing should be avoided
  4. If cold triggers hives, then wear warm clothing, wrap a scarf and do not swim in cold water.
  5. Avoid sun exposure and wear sunblock
  6. If a specific medication is causing the hives, inform your doctor. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.
2634 people found this helpful

7 Tips To Deal With Chronic Urticaria

PG Dip Dermatology (London), Fellow Aesthetic Medicine (Germany) , D.M.C.H, MBBS
Dermatologist, Delhi
7 Tips To Deal With Chronic Urticaria

Are you looking for ways to deal with chronic urticaria? This is an uncomfortable skin health condition which is featured by red, itchy welts appearing on any part of your body. The cause of this condition is unknown to us most of the times. When the cause of chronic urticaria cannot be determined, the condition is called chronic idiopathic urticaria. There are several ways of dealing with this condition.

Here is a list of the top ways to deal with chronic urticaria:

  1. Try to Avoid Known Triggers: Avoiding known triggers is the best way of controlling chronic urticaria. You should consult an allergist for determining the triggers which might affect you. The most common triggers include foods such as eggs, shellfish, peanuts, and several food additives. Several pain medications, physical stimuli like temperature, exercise, pollen, and certain bacterial infections and viral infections are common triggers.

  2. Take Your Medicines Regularly: You should regularly take your medicines prescribed for dealing with chronic urticaria. Antihistamines are commonly used. The use of corticosteroids or epinephrine infections may also be required.

  3. Soothe Your Skin: Scratching is bad for your chronic urticaria and should be avoided to prevent the hives from being aggravated. Dry skin triggers scratching and so you should keep your skin well moisturised. Take frequent baths, and use moisturising creams and ointments.

  4. Wear Loose Clothes: Friction and pressure on your affected skin may worsen the hives. You should abstain from wearing tight belts, constricting clothes, and shoes which do not fit well. Choose soft fabric material clothes.

  5. Vitamin D Supplements: Adding vitamin D supplements may help in reducing the symptoms of chronic urticaria. You should consult your dermatologist before taking vitamin D supplements on your own.

  6. Alternative Therapies: Stress accounts for worsening this health condition. You should practice techniques which relax your mind and soul, such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing. These are effective in stress relief. Some studies state that acupuncture may also be associated with decreasing the symptoms of chronic urticaria.

  7. Manage Your Symptoms: If you are suffering from chronic urticaria, all your efforts will be directed towards managing all the visible symptoms. However, you must also deal with the invisible symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Living with this condition is a challenging and painful task, which often results in depression, and emotional imbalance. Emotional stress, fatigue, and emotional distress are triggered by chronic urticaria.

It is important for you to consult a dermatologist if you experience any symptom of chronic urticaria. Early diagnosis and an early treatment will prevent the condition from worsening further.

2504 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

Having a recurrence of Penile AngioEdema after 10 Years, how can this be eliminated for future?

C.S.C, D.C.H, M.B.B.S
General Physician, Alappuzha
Treatment of hereditary angioedema (HAE) consists of prophylaxis, management of acute attacks, and prophylactic therapy in situations where attacks may occur. Patients with hypotension due to sequestration of fluid in the extravascular space require intravascular fluid replacement may require large amounts of intravenous fluids to maintain hemodynamic stability. Abdominal pain is treated with narcotics. In cases of serious laryngeal edema causing respiratory obstruction, intubation or tracheostomy should be performed.

I am suffering from right leg back side pain from last 2 or 3 days and also welt in front of leg. Why this is happen please guide n suggest me.

BPTh/BPT
Physiotherapist, Bangalore
It's due to nerve root compression happening at the spine level, may be l3 l4 or l5 s1, get treated thr physiotherapy and medications to support the nerves.

Table of Content

What is Angioedema ?

Causes of Angioedema

Diagnosis and Treatment

Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice