Up to 20% of people experience angioedema, a condition that causes serious swelling and often accompanies hives. At The Center for Allergy & Immunology in Kansas City and Lee’s Summit, Missouri, experienced specialist Travis Sifers, MD, understands the underlying causes of angioedema and can prescribe a customized treatment plan that includes specialty drugs. To learn more, click the online scheduling tool or call the office nearest you.
Angioedema is swelling deep underneath your skin. Usually, angioedema affects the face and lips but can also occur in the throat, genitals, and other areas.
Angioedema often occurs alongside hives, and the conditions can combine to cause serious discomfort.
Angioedema can cause swelling and puffiness in the affected areas. Face swelling is often the first symptom. The swollen skin may feel hot or extremely uncomfortable. Because angioedema and hives occur together so often, you may have welts and intense itchiness.
The four main angioedema causes are:
Allergies cause more than 90% of angioedema. Common triggers include:
Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ACE inhibitors, and antibiotics can all trigger angioedema. This reaction is different than with a medication allergy.
Genetic mutations cause a rare form of angioedema. About 75% of people with this type of angioedema inherit it from their parents. The remaining cases occur in people with no family history of angioedema.
Some cases of angioedema are idiopathic — there’s no known cause. Usually, this type of angioedema causes recurring flare-ups.
Dr. Sifers is a highly skilled diagnostician who can identify the underlying cause of your angioedema.
If you suspect you have angioedema and are experiencing discomfort due to the swelling, you need medical treatment.
If you have sudden-onset angioedema and hives, especially with difficulty breathing, you could be having a life-threatening allergic reaction, anaphylaxis.
In that situation, seek emergency medical attention. If you have an allergic condition and keep an epinephrine auto-injector with you, use it before heading to the emergency room.
At The Center for Allergy & Immunology, Dr. Sifers treats angioedema on a case-by-case basis. Successful treatment requires a complete understanding of your angioedema trigger.
Generally, antihistamines are the first treatment for allergic angioedema. Should antihistamines fail to control your swelling and other symptoms, Dr. Sifers may prescribe oral corticosteroids.
If antihistamines or corticosteroids don’t help with your angioedema symptoms, Dr. Sifers may prescribe immunosuppressants to calm your overactive immune system. You need an auto-injector for emergencies.
Some types of angioedema don't respond to these measures, so you may need specialty drugs through injection or infusion. Dr. Sifers provides all types of angioedema treatments, including highly specialized ones, at The Center for Allergy & Immunology.
For help with angioedema, call or book an appointment online.