Angioedema Treatment and Management

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Angioedema Treatment
Angioedema Treatment
Angioedema, also called Quincke’s edema, is defined as the quick swelling (edema) of the deeper layers of the skin, including the dermis, subcutaneous tissue, mucosa and submucosal tissues. It should not be mistaken for hives or uticaria, which is swelling in the upper dermis. Angioedema may occur with or without hives.

The edema in angioedema is caused by the fluid buildup in any part of the body, including the eyes, lips, hands, feet and genitals. Most cases of angioedema are minor and can be treated and managed at home. Angioedema that is quickly progressing should be treated as a medical emergency and should seek medical attention immediately.

Angioedema Types

There are four types of angioedema, each with different causes and duration of symptoms. The four include:

  • Allergic angioedema (most common type)
    • Associated with an allergic reaction from food, insect bites and medications, among others
    • Severe reactions are called anaphylaxis
    • Usually not chronic
  • Drug-induced angioedema
    • Caused by substances or components in drugs that lead to swelling
  • Hereditary angioedema (rarest type)
    • Genetic causes of angioedema
    • Gradual development where symptoms begin to manifest at puberty
  • Idiopathic angioedema
    • Cause is not known

Angioedema Causes

  • Allergic angioedema
    • Common food causes: chocolates, nuts, seafood, tomatoes, eggs, fresh berries, milk and alcohol
  • Drug-induced angioedema
    • Particular medications such as high blood pressure drugs which contain angiotensin-converting enzyme
  • Hereditary angioedema
    • Faulty genes in the DNA affecting regulation of immune system
  • Idiopathic angioedema
    • Although cause is unknown, it is generally associated with infection, anxiety and stress, wearing tight clothes, caffeine and deficiency in vitamin B12

Angioedema Symptoms

Angioedema symptoms usually appear abruptly and quickly, except for the hereditary angioedema. Some of the symptoms generally associated with angioedema include:

  • Red welts, especially near the eyes and lips but may also appear in the hands, feet and inside of the throat
    • May sometimes be accompanied by a burning and itching sensation
    • Painful and swollen
  • Discolored patches on the face, hands, feet and genitals
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vision problems

Angioedema Treatment and Management

Mild cases of angioedema can be treated at home without medical treatment and sometimes, no treatment is necessary as angioedema will go away on its own. Moderate to severe symptoms may require medical treatment thus seek medical attention. For mild to moderate cases of angioedema:

  • Identify the allergen. Once the trigger is known, stay away from this allergen. Moreover, avoid stressful situations and strenuous activities.
  • Take over-the-counter antihistamines and/ or anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Apply cool compresses over the affected area to reduce pain symptoms or take cool baths. Avoid hot baths or showers. Wear loose clothes.
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • In cases of severe allergic reactions, ask if the casualty has epinephrine shots. If one does, assist the casualty.
  • Inhaler medications may help open the airway.

To learn about how to treat angioedema and other skin-related injuries, enroll in First Aid Training and CPR courses for knowledge on medical scenarios.

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