Three First Aid Signs You Are Susceptible To Angioedema


Table of Contents

Explanation: What Is Angioedema

Angioedema is often caused by an allergic reaction to food, drugs or envenomation in the form of insect stings and bites. This is where the body mistakes what is typically considered to be a harmless substance, such as certain foods or prescribed medications, for something dangerous. The immune system releases chemicals that attack the substance, causing the surrounding tissue to swell.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Angioedema

The most common symptom of angioedema is sudden swelling below the skin surface. Welts, hives, or red patches on the skin’s surface can also develop. The swelling usually occurs around the eyes and lips, giving the person a puffy look.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Swollen eyes and mouth.
  • Swollen lining of the eyes (chemosis)
  • Abdominal cramping.

What Is The Best First Aid Treatment For Angioedema

Medication is the main treatment although many cases get better after a few days without treatment. Allergic and idiopathic angioedema are treated the same way, using a combination of antihistamines and corticosteroids to help relieve the swelling.

Allergic angioedema: the swelling is caused by an allergic reaction, such as a reaction to peanuts, and sometimes occurs in combination with anaphylaxis.

Idiopathic angioedema: there is no known cause for the swelling, although certain factors, such as stress or infection, may trigger the symptoms in some patients, however it is related to the autoimmune system and the delicate balance that exists within each individual’s system.

Who Is Most At Risk For Angioedema

Significant risk factors for severe cases include:

  • Older age.
  • Hispanic race.
  • ACEi-induced angioedema type.
  • American Society of Anaesthesiologists class III or above, coexistent cardiopulmonary disease.
  • A positive smoking history.

What Are The Testing Methods For Angioedema

Skin prick test:  The skin is pricked with a tiny amount of the suspected allergen to see whether there is a reaction and how severe that reaction is to the applied substance.

Blood test: A sample of the blood is tested to determine whether the immune system reacts to a suspected allergen. This test is often the first to be conducted, especially when there is a chance of anaphylaxis in the patient if they were to react to the smallest amounts of the allergen in the skin prick test.

Is Angioedema An Autoimmune Disease

Chronic angioedema with urticaria is often caused by an autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or drug reactions.

Which Drugs Can Cause Angioedema

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are the leading cause of drug-induced angioedema in the United States because they are so widely prescribed. Patients most commonly present with lips, tongue, or face swelling, although another presentation is episodic abdominal pain due to intestinal angioedema that can be misdiagnosed where the patient has never had previous symptoms and has presented with no history of known allergies.

How Long Does An Angioedema Episode Last

It most often affects the face concentrating on the lips and eyes. However, any swelling can be serious, even fatal, when it affects the throat, causing swelling that blocks the airway preventing the immediate administration of CPR and requires intubation to re-establish an airway before CPR can be performed.

Is Angioedema A Form Of Anaphylaxis

No. It is a common symptom of anaphylaxis. In anaphylaxis, hives and swelling of the skin occur in most cases where anaphylaxis is present. Respiratory distress symptoms occur frequently and are especially common in people with asthma or another chronic respiratory disease like COPD.

What Is The Difference Between Angioedema And Anaphylaxis

Angioedema is characterised by oedema (swelling) of the subcutaneous or submucosal tissues, which can cause airway compromise if the tongue or larynx is involved. 

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening systemic allergic reaction characterised by acute onset and multiorgan involvement.

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