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What is angioedema?

When you experience swelling on any part of your body, you can expect your skin tighten as it becomes inflated or bloated.  Angioedema is a type of swelling in the deeper layers of your skin. It can be caused by an allergic reaction, hereditary of a lack of specific protein or occur for unknown reasons (idiopathic).

How is Swelling Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of the swelling is by examination and a careful medical history.  You should consider consulting an allergy specialist if your swelling is severe, recurrent, involves your airway, or lasts for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, if you do not know the cause of your swelling an allergy evaluation may be appropriate. Your allergist may do allergy testing or order blood work to screen for a particular type of swelling called hereditary angioedema or other medical conditions.

How is Angioedema Treated?

Swelling caused by allergic reactions can be treated with antihistamines and/or corticosteroids. Swelling involving your airway (mouth or throat) or if accompanied by any signs of severe allergic reactions such as respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath), abdominal pain or blood pressure changes may require epinephrine and should be seen in the emergency room. In the case of hereditary angioedema medications are given to regulate the levels of specific blood proteins.