(Angioneurotic Edema; Hereditary Angioedema)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
Angioedema is swelling under the surface of the skin with or without redness. It is very common. Angioedema can occur around the eyelids and lips, or on the face, hands, feet, or genitalia. It can also cause swelling of the airways, so it is important to seek medical care.
Angioedema is often associated with hives. It can be caused by:
This condition is more common in women and people aged 30 to 60 years. Things that may increase the risk of angioedema are:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may ask about any medicine you have taken or recent activity. The diagnosis can often be made by sight. Tests may be done if causes are not clear and it recurs.
Minor angioedema may not need treatment. However, it is important to make sure the swelling does not spread to the airway. Symptoms can be eased with medicine such as:
It is important to learn what the trigger was. Avoiding the trigger can prevent or reduce future events.
Severe swelling can close off the airway. A small opening may need to be made in the neck. It will create a new airway until the swelling has passed.
Avoid triggers to reduce chance of more events.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Canadian Dermatology Association
Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Acute urticaria. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-urticaria. Updated July 27, 2017. Accessed February 7, 2020.
Tarbox J, Bansal A, Peiris A. Angioedema. JAMA. 2018;319(19):2054. Accessed at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2681197.
Angioedema. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T566511/Angioedema. Updated March 19, 2019. Accessed February 7, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 7/22/2020