Angioedema: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Angioedema?

Angioedema (AE) is the rapid swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. It is similar to urticaria (hives or welts) which occur on upper dermis (surface of skin). It is possible to have angioedema without hives. A significant number of patients have both urticaria and angioedema. The edema caused by accumulation of fluid can be severe and can affect any part of the body, including hands, lips, eyes, genitals, feet etc.
  Angiedema overview

Recovery Time

  • When a person has mild AE, it usually goes away within 3-4 days with or without treatment.
  • Moderate and severe cases, will need proper treatment and recovery depend on the care taken by the individual. 
  • The rash lasts up to 6-12 months or longer.


  • Examination of skin
  • Blood test
  • Skin prick test
  • Previous medical records
Skin test

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is Angioedema?
Angioedema is the swelling of the subcutaneous tissue typically caused by type I hypersensitivity reaction to certain allergens in certain individuals, who are allergic to such allergens. 
The severity may vary depending on the severity of the immune response.  In severe cases it may cause swelling of the larynx and breathing obstruction and death if not treated promptly. 
Angioedema can also be caused hereditarily or due to some medication by different mechanisms.

Q2.  How do I get Angioedema?
You get Angioedema if you are exposed to specific allergens or to certain medication or if you are genetically predisposed.

Q3.  What is the treatment for angioedema?
Mild forms are treated with antihistamines. Chronic forms require steroids.  Life threatening form requires immediate epinephrine injection and ICU treatment.

Q4.  How long does it take to cure? And is there any chance of recurrence?
Mild forms usually resolve within 3-5days. People are advised to keep epinephrine injection handy as recurrence may be severe in rare cases.

Q5.  How do I prevent Angioedema?
Angioedema is prevented by avoiding the specific allergens / medications causing it.

Q6.  What are the complications of Angioedema?
Mild forms usually resolve without complications. Severe forms may be life threatening if immediate measures are not taken.

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