Angioedema: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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1 Angioedema
1.2 What is Angioedema?


Angioedema has many other names, including angioneurotic edema, Welts, and allergic reaction angioedema.

Hereditary angioedema affects one in every 50,000 people. It causes sudden and severe swelling under the skin. This swelling is a big concern, especially in the throat. The throat swelling can make it hard to breathe, leading to a life-threatening situation1. Surprisingly, 20% to 25% of people in the U.S. will have angioedema or hives at least once in their life.1

This article discusses the causes of angioedema, its symptoms, and the newest treatment choices. It is meant to provide important information to those dealing with this tough illness.

Key Takeaways

  • Angioedema is a serious condition characterized by swelling beneath the skin, often in the face, throat, and other body areas.
  • Allergic reactions, medications, hereditary factors, and other triggers can cause angioedema.
  • Swelling in the throat or larynx can be life-threatening if it blocks the airway.
  • Different types of angioneurotic edema include acute allergic, non-allergic drug-induced, hereditary, and acquired forms.
  • Treatment options range from antihistamines and corticosteroids to immune system suppressants and blood protein controllers.

What is Angioedema?

Definition and Overview

Angioedema makes the deeper layers of your skin swell, affecting your face, lips, and other body parts2. It’s quite different from hives, which are itchy bumps on the surface of your skin. Both can happen simultaneously, but they have separate causes and signs. Angioedema can quickly get serious, especially if your airways swell up.


Differences Between Angioneurotic Edema, Hives, and Urticaria

The main difference between angioneurotic edema and hives is how deeply they affect the skin. Angioneurotic edema swells the deep layers under the skin, while hives swell just the top skin layers2. Angioedema swelling happens fast and can block your airways, which is dangerous. But hives don’t usually cause this airway problem. Knowing these differences is key to getting the right diagnosis and treatment.

Types of angioneurotic edema

Angioedema comes in many forms, each with its own causes and traits. Knowing the types is key to the right diagnosis and treatment.

types of angioedema

Acute Allergic Angioedema

This type shows up quickly, often after eating certain foods, taking medications, or getting insect bites or stings.1 Symptoms start in minutes to a couple of hours, usually with hives.

Non-Allergic Drug Reaction

Some medications, like ACE inhibitors or NSAIDs, can trigger angioedema without an allergic response1. It happens due to the drugs’ effects, not the immune system.

Idiopathic Angioedema

When the cause is unknown, it’s called idiopathic angioedema1. Swelling can happen in different body parts, like the face or hands, for no clear reason.

Hereditary Angioedema

HAE is a rare genetic condition linked to a problem with a specific protein1. Swellings come and go without a set pattern.

Acquired C1 Inhibitor Deficiency

This type can develop later in life due to health conditions like B-cell lymphoma1. It’s not passed down and might be tied to other illnesses.

Vibratory Angioedema

This rare kind happens when the skin is exposed to vibrations, leading to hives and swelling1. It can last around six weeks.

Knowing about the many types helps doctors find the causes and treat angioedema. This makes it easier to manage the condition.

Angioneurotic edema Symptoms

Angioedema causes fast swelling. It often happens in the face, lips, throat, hands, feet, or genital area.1 This swell can also make the area red, warm, and slightly hurt.3

Swelling Locations

Angioneurotic edema often causes swelling of the face, lips, throat, hands, feet, and genital area. This swelling happens suddenly and is usually painless.

Accompanying Symptoms

Swollen hand

Besides swelling, angioedema might cause redness, warmth, and pain in those areas. These signs show the body fighting the problem that started the swelling.

Severity and Complications

In the worst cases, swelling in the airways can make breathing hard3. This is a medical emergency. Quick care is needed to prevent severe issues.3 Also, angioedema can cause stomach problems if the intestines get swollen.

About 20% to 25% of Americans will have angioedema and/or hives at least once.13 Severe angioneurotic edema can be life-threatening by blocking the airway.3

Causes of Angioedema

Numerous factors, including allergies, specific medications, and things you inherit from your family or experiences in life, can cause angioedema. Knowing the reasons helps doctors and patients find the best ways to deal with this problem.

Allergic Triggers

Allergic reactions are the top reason for angioedema. They come from eating certain foods like shellfish or from things like insect bites.2 Even some drugs can cause this problem.

Medication-Induced Causes

Some medicines, like those for high blood pressure, can also cause angioneurotic edema. This happens even if you’re not allergic to the medicine3. Two symptoms may show up within an hour of taking the drug.

Hereditary and Acquired Factors

Not everyone gets angioedema the same way. Some people inherit it, especially if they have a family history. Others might get it later in life due to a weak immune system or other health problems24.

Vibratory angioedema is rare and results from being around repeated vibrations. Then there’s idiopathic angioedema, which happens without a clear reason. It could be due to stress, infections, extreme temperatures, or excessive exercise12.

Knowing what causes angioedema is key to treating it well. With the right information, doctors can create a treatment that fits the specific cause, which can help prevent angioedema from happening again.

Risk Factors for Angioneurotic Edema

If you or your family have had angioneurotic edema before, you might be more likely to get it, too3. Conditions like lupus, lymphoma, issues with your thyroid, or certain viral infections can also increase your risk2. Using ACE inhibitors or NSAIDs, having asthma raises these odds even more.2

Allergic angioedema is the top kind you might hear about, and it’s often seen with some medicines for blood pressure called ACE inhibitors2Hereditary angioedema, known as HAE, shows up early in life, before2. But, there is another type, acquired angioedema, that happens more often in older adults after 402.

A history of hives, allergies, or angioneurotic edema increases the chance of getting it again. If you also have asthma and use NSAIDs, you’re at greater risk. The same is true if you use drugs like ACE inhibitors and ARBs or have had stroke therapy.2

Surprisingly, your racial background also plays a part in how likely you are to have angioedema.5 Being Black has a big relationship with getting angioneurotic edema, especially if you use ACE inhibitors.5 In places like the Bronx, with many Black people, the risk goes even higher due to high hypertension rates.5

It’s rare for ACE inhibitors to cause angioneurotic edema, affecting less than 1% of users.5 But among those who do, over half of the deaths in the last 30 years were Black people.5 On the other hand, more than half of HAE cases in the U.S. were Caucasians.

Many things can affect your risk of angioneurotic edema, from your health history to the medicines you take and even where you come from. Understanding and managing these risks is key to dealing with angioedema.

Diagnosis of Angioedema

Diagnosing angioedema is key to getting the right treatment. Doctors use physical examinations and blood tests. They figure out what’s causing the angioedema.

Physical Examination

Doctors check where the swelling is and what it looks like. They also look for other symptoms. The exam focuses on areas like the face or hands to see how bad the swelling is1Acute allergic angioedema can start fast, from minutes to two hours after contact with an allergen. It’s often seen with hives.

Blood Tests

After the exam, doctors might order blood tests. These tests help determine the type of angioedema and rule out other illnesses. They might measure C1 esterase inhibitor levels. This protein helps prevent too much fluid from building up.1 About 1 in 50,000 people have hereditary angioedema (HAE). Doctors might also check for things like clotting or autoantibodies, depending on what they suspect.

Combining the physical examination and blood tests helps in making the correct diagnosis. This is crucial for starting the right treatment to help with the patient’s angioneurotic edema.

Treatment Options for Angioedema

Treating angioneurotic edema1 depends on its cause and how bad it is. Antihistamines and corticosteroids are the first steps because they lower swelling and stop the body from overreacting.6

Antihistamines and Corticosteroids

Doctors may use drugs that calm the immune system for serious or long-lasting cases. These include leukotriene antagonists and drugs that control blood proteins.6

Immune System Suppressants

Leukotriene antagonists and C1 esterase inhibitors are also good for managing symptoms.6

Leukotriene Antagonists

Blood Protein Controllers

If the swelling makes breathing hard, injecting epinephrine is quick and can save a life.6

Epinephrine for Severe Attacks

Allergic angioedema can happen rapidly after contact with an allergen. Quick treatment is key to avoiding breathing problems. About 1 in 50,000 people has a kind they’re born with.1

Activities like running or riding a bike can cause some types of angioedema. This makes it essential to know and avoid what causes your swelling episodes. Around 20% to 25% of Americans will have angioedema at some point, so knowing how to treat it is vital.1

Medications like ACE inhibitors and some painkillers can cause angioedema, too. Doctors must look at a patient’s drug history to manage it best. Hereditary angioedema might pass down if a parent has or carries the gene1.

Researchers keep studying angioedema to find better treatments. They cover many topics, from the causes and symptoms to how to treat it effectively.7

They also share findings on how mast cells affect blood vessel leaks and the role of certain antibodies in allergic reactions.7

Furthermore, other studies focus on treating the swelling and pain, offering new insights into managing chronic symptoms like hives and angioedema.

Some research rare forms to understand their causes and find the best ways to help people with these conditions. This work is essential for enhancing the lives of angioedema sufferers.

Managing Allergic Angioedema

Knowing what causes their reactions is key for those with allergic angioedema. They should keep a detailed diary. This helps them figure out which foods, medications, or things around them trigger angioedema episodes.1 By avoiding these triggers, people can lower the frequency and severity of their angioedema attacks.

Identifying and Avoiding Triggers

It’s very important to keep track of angioedema symptoms and what might be causing them. Write down when and where it happens and what leads up to it. Patterns in these records could show what to avoid to prevent angioedema1.

Preventive Antihistamine Use

Taking antihistamines regularly can also help manage allergic angioedema. These medicines stop the body’s histamine response, which can cause swelling. By blocking this, antihistamines can make angioedema attacks less frequent and less severe1. Taking them as a preventive step can be a major help. It lets people with known triggers stay in control of their angioedema and enjoy life more.

Hereditary Angioedema Management

Hereditary angioedema (HAE) needs special care because of a gene problem in the C1 esterase inhibitor8. There are two types: Type 1 doesn’t have enough C1 inhibitors, and Type 2 has a lot of bad C1 Inhibitors. Both types don’t work well8. Treatments focus on fixing C1 inhibitor levels. This might be through replacement therapy or using androgens.

It’s key for those with HAE to stop attacks before they start89. A study found that using subcutaneous C1 inhibitors can help prevent swelling attacks9. For long-term prevention, options include lanadelumab, different forms of C1-inhibitor, berotralstat, and androgens8.

HAE attacks can happen very often or hardly at all, which makes managing it hard.10 It’s important to tell HAE apart from other kinds of swelling because the treatments are different.8

If you have HAE, your doctors will help you make a plan to avoid attacks and treat them well when they happen. With new medications, life can get better for people with this condition.9

Natural Remedies for Angioedema

Some people try natural remedies along with medical treatments to manage angioedema. These can involve using herbal supplements and essential oils and changing their diet. They aim to reduce swelling and boost the body’s defenses11. Always talk to a doctor before using these. They might not mix well with your regular meds or could cause other problems.

Some supplements, like vitamin C and quercetin, might ease angioedema symptoms11. Certain herbs, including goldenseal and chamomile, have been known to help. But be careful using them if you’re taking other medicines.11 Homeopathic options like Apis mellifica and treatments like acupuncture could also lessen your allergic responses.11

Changing what you eat can also be beneficial. Avoiding foods you’re allergic to and those high in histamine might reduce swelling.12 Known food triggers for angioedema are things like seafood, nuts, and chocolate.11

Natural Remedies for Angioedema Potential Benefits
Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Quercetin, and Bromelain May help reduce or prevent angioedema symptoms11
Herbal Supplements (Goldenseal, Licorice Root, and Chamomile) It is traditionally used to reduce angioedema symptoms, but caution is advised due to potential interactions11
Homeopathic Remedies (Apis mellifica) May be used for hives and angioedema11
Acupuncture May help reduce the frequency or severity of allergic reactions like angioedema11
Dietary Adjustments (Eliminating Food Allergens, Reducing High-Histamine Foods) Can help reduce inflammation and the likelihood of angioedema12

Be cautious with natural remedies. While they may aid in angioedema relief, always consult a healthcare provider. The best care includes both natural and standard medical treatments11,12,13.

Homeopathic and Ayurvedic Approaches

Some people use homeopathic or Ayurvedic methods to help with angioedema. Homeopathic doctors give personalized remedies. They examine the person’s symptoms and body type to choose what to use11.

Ayurvedic practices from India may change what you eat and how you live to fight angioedema. They suggest using specific herbs to help the body balance and heal itself11. Before trying these, talking with a healthcare professional is a must.

Homeopathy might suggest Apis mellifica for swelling or Urtica urens for itchy skin. Ayurveda might recommend Guduchi or Amalaki to boost your immunity and fight allergies11. Both methods focus on solving the underlying issues, not just the symptoms of angioedema.

But, keep in mind, there’s little scientific proof these methods are effective against angioedema. So, it’s smart to discuss these options with a doctor who knows about different types of medicine11. Working with both conventional and alternative medicine experts can help create a better treatment plan for angioneurotic edema.

Angioneurotic edema: Homeopathic Treatments

Homeopathy offers a wide range of options for treating angioneurotic edema. Numerous natural homeopathic remedies work wonders for treating angioneurotic edema and reducing swelling in these circumstances. Regulating the immune system that triggers the allergic reaction greatly aids in healing allergic patients. Both chronic or recurring conditions and more recent ones can benefit from the use of homeopathic medications. Note that you can safely take homeopathic remedies as long as there is no swelling of the tongue, throat, or airways accompanied by breathing difficulties. In extreme situations, prompt conventional method therapy is required if the enlargement of the throat, airways, or tongue obstructs breathing. Additionally, homeopathy has limitations when it comes to treating anaphylactic reactions, where prompt assistance from conventional medicine is necessary.

1. Apis Mellifica: Premium Quality Drug

One of the best medications for treating angioedema is Apis Mellifica. People who require it experience angioneurotic edema primarily around their mouths, lips, eyes, hands, and feet. There is noticeable facial redness and warmth. Men may also have testicular edema. Females may get swelling in their labia. In the swelling area, complaints of burning and stinging pains are made. Hives, in addition to these symptoms, accompany skin wheals. The red wheals have a sharp burning and stinging feeling. They itch, hurt, and are sensitive. Most of the time, the itching grows worse at night. In addition to the symptoms listed above, eyes may be itchy and red. This medication also effectively treats angioedema symptoms that follow a bee sting. These symptoms include scorching, painful pins and needles in the skin, as well as extreme edema.

2. Urtica Urens For hives and noticeable facial, hand, or foot swelling

It is made from the Stinging nettle plant, which is a member of the Urticaceae family. Homeopathic medicine is made from fresh, blooming plants. It is highly recommended for hives and noticeable swelling of the hands, feet, and face. When needed, the fingers and hands swell up a lot from itching. There are red patches and lumps on the hands. There is redness, burning, and swelling in the face, hands, and feet. The eyelids are very puffy and difficult to open. There are elevated red blotches on the skin when someone has hives. Itching, burning, and stinging accompany this. Additionally, it relieves hives brought on by eating shellfish.

3. Rhus Toxicodendron For Oedema of Lids with Hives

Like the medications mentioned above, it is a highly helpful medication for eyelid edema situations in which hives are present. When using this medication, getting wet and being in cold air frequently causes hives. There is burning and itching in the hives. The skin that is affected looks shiny and tight. The hand and forearm are where the most severe wheals are heard. The eruption is causing significant stitching pain.

4. Arsenicum Album For Burning Pain and Oedematous Swellings

When scorching pain is present together with oedematous swellings, this medication is clearly needed. Urticarial eruptions are occurring in addition to this. There is a lot of burning in these eruptions as well. There’s noticeable restlessness with this. A general weakness may accompany the foregoing symptoms. In certain situations, this medication also aids in the management of vomiting and loose stool. Another sign that you should use this medication is urticaria from eating shellfish.

5. Agaricus To Reduce Itching and Swelling

This is the next-generation angioedema medication. The primary side effects of using it are skin burning, redness, swelling, and itching. There are limited oedematous lesions, and the itching shifts when you scratch.

6. Hepar Sulphur For recurrent urticaria and edema

Hepar sulfur is an extremely helpful medication for long-term recurrent urticaria and angioedema. When necessary, swelling is primarily seen in the hands, feet, and upper lip. Hands and fingers are where the wheals are most common. A few common symptoms include skin that sticks and prickles and is sensitive to even the smallest contact.

7. Antipyrinum: An Additional Appropriate Medication for Angioneurotic edema

Another medication recommended for angioedema is antipyrinum. Those in need of it also suffer from urticaria, which quickly appears and disappears. It might be handled with an inside icyness. The eruptions cause the most acute itching. The eruptions are primarily found in the spaces between the fingers when utilizing it.

8. Helleborus For Intense Skin Swelling

The plant known as Helleborus Niger, sometimes referred to as Black Hellebore and Christmas Rose, is used to make this medication. It is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. It is recommended when there is an abrupt increase in skin edema. Redness and edema appear on the face. Legs might also exhibit edema.

Angioedema in Children

Angioedema is seen in kids, and how we treat it might differ from that of adults14. Hereditary angioedema (HAE) can start in childhood, usually before 12 years old14. Knowing what causes it and how to avoid those triggers is key15. Some cases can be very serious, blocking the throat and making breathing hard15. Certain foods, bug bites, drugs, and even family history can cause angioedema in children.

Doctors who work with children’s angioedema make specific plans to keep them safe14. The treatment changes based on the type of angioedema. Some cases need medicine every day14. It can’t be cured, but with the right care, most kids do well14. They need to visit a doctor who knows about the immune system regularly14. Some may have to take medicine forever and switch to a doctor for adults when they turn 18.

It’s important to keep up with the care, even after the first treatment. This is for the child’s health and safety15. Medicine might make children sleepy, but it’s still needed for angioneurotic edema.15 In severe cases, doctors might tell them to keep a shot of epinephrine with them just in case.

Types of Angioedema Prevalence in Children Key Characteristics
Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) HAE accounts for only 0.4% of angioedema cases. Hereditary angioedema is an autosomal dominant disease usually associated with a positive family history of angioedema. In approximately 80–85% of cases, serum C1 inhibitor (C1INH) levels are decreased to approximately 30% of reference range values. In contrast, about 15% of patients with hereditary angioedema have reference range levels of antigenic but mostly nonfunctional C1INH.
Acquired Angioedema (AAE) AAE1 and AAE2 are very rare in the pediatric population. AAE1 is usually linked to an underlying lymphoproliferative disorder, while AAE2 is associated with autoantibodies that inhibit C1INH function.
Idiopathic Angioedema INAE angioedema may occur in approximately 1 of 20 angioedema cases. Idiopathic angioedema may be associated with swelling or hives that persist longer than six weeks.
Allergic Angioedema As many as 50% of children who have urticaria exhibit angioneurotic edema, with swelling of the hands and feet. The most prevalent type of angioedema is allergic, and environmental triggers like food, insect stings, cold, heat, latex, or drugs can cause it.
ACE Inhibitor-induced Angioedema  4-8% of angioedema cases are ACE inhibitor-induced angioedema. A few hours to many years after starting the medication, swelling from ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure may appear.

Angioedema and Pregnancy

Angioedema can be challenging during pregnancy. The condition and some treatments may risk the mother and baby. Pregnant women with angioedema need to plan with their doctors. This plan should fit the special needs of pregnancy.

Parents with Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) might pass it down to their babies17. Medicines like danazol, oxandrolone, and stanozolol, used for HAE, are not safe during pregnancy17. HAE attacks are uncommon when the baby is born but might worsen after birth17. Doctors usually suggest HAE testing for the baby after their first year17.

Taking care of angioneurotic edema while pregnant is very important. It helps keep both the mother and baby safe. Treatment might need to change, and close checking is often necessary. Making a plan for dealing with sudden attacks is key. Working with skilled doctors, pregnant women with angioneurotic edema can handle these issues well. They can focus on staying healthy and helping their baby.

Living with Angioedema

Living with angioneurotic edema can be tough, affecting both the body and the mind18. Swelling can happen suddenly or over time and can be caused by different things18. For example, allergic angioedema and hereditary angioedema react quickly to triggers18. This swelling usually goes away on its own in a few days.18 Learning to avoid triggers and keeping in touch with your doctor can make a big difference in how you feel.

Coping Strategies

Some medications, like antihistamines and steroids18, can help with allergic and idiopathic angioedema. For hereditary and allergic angioedema, special drugs boost a key protein to stop attacks. In some places, medical cannabis is used to reduce swelling18. It’s also key to have your medication on hand for emergencies. Staying healthy, both physically and mentally, is important, too.

Support Resources

Support groups are a great place to find others who understand what you’re going through, whether in-person or online19. They offer a chance to talk, share tips, and get and give support.

Websites like the HAEA Café or the DiscoverHAE Facebook page are great for support, too19. They connect you to a wider community, helping you feel less alone.


Angioneurotic edema is a serious condition that needs careful handling. Knowing the types and recognizing symptoms is crucial. Then, by using the right treatments, people can deal with it better and even avoid severe attacks20.

Support from healthcare experts and finding helpful resources are important for those with angioneurotic edema. They can lead to a better lifestyle and health21.

Dealing with an angioneurotic edema diagnosis may seem overwhelming. However, being well-informed, active, and watchful makes a big difference20,21.

Creating a detailed treatment plan together with doctors is key. This plan should address what causes the issue and how to keep it under control. Also, joining support groups and learning coping skills can make life easier for angioedema patients. It builds their strength and courage.

Overall, this article highlights a complete care and action plan for angioedema20,21. Educating patients and providing the right tools is essential. It helps them manage the disease better and live a higher quality of life.


What is angioneurotic edema?

Angioneurotic edema is a serious condition that causes swelling under the skin, especially in the face and throat. It can be caused by allergies, some medications, or things passed down through families. The worst part is when the swelling blocks the airway, which can be life-threatening.

How is angioedema different from hives or urticaria?

Angioneurotic edema swells the deeper skin layers, making swelling appear suddenly. In contrast, hives make itchy welts on the surface. If the deep swelling blocks the airways, it’s a medical emergency.

What are the different types of angioedema?

There are several types of angioneurotic edema. They include allergies, drug reactions, and those with unknown causes. There’s also a hereditary kind; others are linked to certain medical issues. Each type has its triggers and signs.

What are the symptoms of angioedema?

The main symptom is sudden, deep swelling in different body parts, such as the face, lips, or hands. The skin might also get red and feel warm, sometimes with a little pain. Breathing can get really hard when the swelling is in the throat or neck, so you need medical help immediately.

What causes angioneurotic edema?

Allergies, some medications, and family history can all contribute to angioedema. Other illnesses that impact the immune system can also be culprits.

Who is at risk of developing angioedema?

People with hives, known allergies, or those whose family has one are more likely to get angioedema. The risk increases with conditions like lupus or problems with the thyroid.

How is angioedema diagnosed?

Doctors check you and might do blood tests. These tests look for things like C1 esterase levels to determine what type of angioedema it is and ensure that nothing else is causing the problem.

What are the treatment options for angioneurotic edema?

Treatments include drugs like antihistamines and steroids to stop the swelling. If it’s severe, you might need epinephrine. In some cases, doctors use medicines that suppress the immune system.

How can allergic angioneurotic edema be managed?

Avoiding what you’re allergic to is key. Antihistamines can also help prevent and reduce swelling. It’s good to work closely with your doctor on this.

How is hereditary angioedema managed?

Hereditary angioedema is managed with special medications, which help keep C1 levels in check. Planning to deal with sudden attacks while working to prevent them is vital.

Can natural remedies or alternative therapies help with angioedema?

Some people try natural or alternative methods, but it’s critical to talk to your doctor first. These methods could affect your regular medications or cause other issues.

How is angioedema managed in children and during pregnancy?

Kids and pregnant women with angioedema need different care. Experts in treating these groups can make plans that help without harm.

What strategies can help with living with angioedema?

Knowing your triggers, staying in touch with your healthcare team, and getting support from others can make living with angioneurotic edema easier. Joining support groups can provide great help and community.

Treatment for Angioedema in Philadelphia

At the Philadelphia Homeopathic Clinic, internationally recognized homeopath Dr. Tsan and associates deliver natural treatment for the main cause of angioneurotic edema using the most effective holistic techniques: acupuncture, homeopathy, and herbal medicine.

Contact our clinic to schedule the initial homeopathic evaluation.

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