There are a variety of medical conditions that can physically affect your body and cause pain. Some of these types of conditions are related to allergic reactions and can cause life-threatening complications if not diagnosed promptly. One type of allergic reaction you might have is angioedema and it can be very embarrassing.
What is Angioedema?
Angioedema refers to a type of swelling which is very similar in nature to hives, and it is an allergic reaction that happens beneath the skin. The main difference between angioedema and hives is that angioedema refers to swelling which is beneath the skin, and hives are on the surface of the skin. The main symptom of angioedema is swelling beneath the surface of the skin, and it will appear very rapidly. Sometimes hives or swelling can be seen on the surface of the skin as a secondary allergic reaction. People who suffer from angioedema will see swelling usually around the lips or eyes but it can also occur on the hands, feet or throat. In the areas where the swelling occurs, it might look like a line or be more sporadic. If you develop welts, you will notice that they are very itchy and often very painful. The welts can also swell and turn pale if you irritate the area. Abdominal cramps, swollen eyes or mouth and swelling near the lining of the eyes are also common. Since this is an allergic reaction, you might have trouble breathing or feel like your throat is closing.
There are a variety of causes that could contribute to angioedema, specifically various allergens. When you are having an allergic reaction, histamine and other chemicals are released into the bloodstream. The histamine is important because it tells your body that there is a foreign substance invading it. Some of the most common allergens include insect bites, animal dander, foods, medications and pollen. You might also be having an allergic reaction to water, sunlight, or even hot and cold weather. Infections and other illnesses might also be the cause of the angioedema. Autoimmune disorders including lymphoma or lupus often can be associated with the condition. Sometimes the cause of angioedema is never found, in which case it can complicate diagnosis and treatment.
In order to get a confirmed diagnosis of angioedema, you will need to see your doctor immediately so appropriate testing can be performed. The doctor will take a look at the swelling and the skin around it, and will give you a complete physical examination. It is important to tell the doctor if you have been around any irritants such as going outside for an extended period of time or if you just got a new pet. Anything that you think could help the doctor determine whether or not you are suffering from angioedema due to an allergy is important. Abnormal sounds might be detected through the physical examination if your throat is one of the affected areas, which can help the doctor diagnose angioedema. The doctor might also perform a blood test or allergy test if it seems relevant to help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment for Angioedema
Usually mild symptoms of angioedema do not require treatment, but treatment is done when the symptoms become bothersome or severe in nature. If you have trouble breathing then this is a significant warning sign and you will go through more thorough examinations and tests. Using a cold compress can help alleviate the symptoms associated with angioedema, specifically the pain and swelling. Antihistamine medications might be given as well as epinephrine and anti-inflammatory medications, which should help alleviate most of the symptoms. If you use these medications daily it will help combat the symptoms and alleviate the pain and swelling.
Outcome of Angioedema
The prognosis for someone with angioedema is good since the condition usually goes away on its own within a few days or a week. These symptoms are harmless in nature and are often nothing more than embarrassing or an annoyance. If breathing problems or a swollen throat occurs, often a hospital stay is in order to make sure that serious complications do not occur. There are no serious complications if you suffer from angioedema unless you have swelling in the throat, in which case an airway blockage could occur. If you think that an airway blockage might occur or you have trouble breathing, you should get to the hospital immediately. The best way to prevent angioedema from occurring is to avoid irritating the area where the angioedema has occurred. You should also stay away from anything that you have a known allergy to and also never take medication that was not prescribed to you. Angioedema does not have to ruin your life and if you take proper precautions and seek treatment for the symptoms, it will usually go away within a week. It is of course very important that you seek medical assistance right away if you think you have angioedema, because putting off treatment can impact the prognosis, and it can turn into a life-threatening situation if your airway is cut off.