If you thought hives are bothersome, wait until you are faced with the suffering caused by angioedema. Unlika hives, which are allergic skin reaction, and form on the surface of the skin, displayed as reddish bumps, angioedema forms under the skin. There are rarely visible reactions to the surface of the skin. Angioedema is a type of swelling, very similar to hives, but happens under the skin. The swelling can occur on several spots, including the face, mouth and near the eyes.
Causes for Angioedema
Like hives, the main cause for angioedema is allergic reaction. Same thing happens, as histamine is released into the bloodstream. The problem with angioedema is that the cause is rarely found. Besides allergic reaction, angioedema can be the result of the following causes: exposure to sun, cold, heat or water, foods, insect bites, pollen and medicines. Sometimes, angioedema can occur after infection and other illnesses that cause immune disorders.
Unlike hives, angioedema symptoms include severe swelling around the eyes and the mouth. In most cases, the skin actually appears normal, which makes determining the cause even more hard. Other symptoms include:
- Eyes that appear swollen when shut
- Painful and burning swelling, but no itching
- Symmetrical swelling
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing
- Irregular and rapid beating of the heart
- Tightness, especially felt in the throat
- Dizziness, faintness and loss of consciousness
- Swollen mouth
- Abdominal cramping
When to call the doctor?
Be sure to contact a physician or a health care provider if the swelling is severe, or you have never had angioedema before. If the symptoms are even more severe, and they include abnormal breathing sounds and faints, call the emergency room.
How is angioedema diagnosed?
To diagnose angioedema, the health care provider will ask you several questions. The main one is whether you have been exposed to irritating substances or are you allergic to anything. You should know your medical history and be prepared to answer all questions. After the “mental” test, the physical exam is performed, trying to detect abnormal sounds when breathing. This shows whether your throat is affected or not.
What does the treatment include?
Once you are diagnosed with angioedema, you must receive a proper treatment. In some cases, when the symptoms are mild, there is no need for treatment. However, moderate and severe symptoms require treatment, while some extreme cases might take you to the emergency room.
The common treatment for angioedema is to prescribe antihistamines, anti inflammatory medicines, inhaler medicines and epinephrine shots. Cool compresses are used to relief the pain. Make sure to avoid any allergens that can further worsen symptoms or trigger new ones.