What is Angioedema?


Angioedema also known as Giant Hives is a kind of severe swelling caused beneath the surface of the skin. The swelling occurs along with red and itchy welts also referred to as ‘giant hives’ beneath the surface of the skin. It is not a serious medical condition and doesn’t leave any marks that last. Without treatment even, it goes away on its own.

An allergy to medication or food can cause both hives and Angioedema. Histamine is produced by the body due to the allergic reaction causing swelling in the blood vessels. Insect bites, pet dander, latex, ivy or poison oak, medication, foods of certain types and pollen could also trigger Angioedema. If it gets more serious then it could trigger to Hodgkin’s disease. Limbs and the face are more prone to swelling as compared to other body parts. Hereditary Angioedema is a health condition that is passed through genetic transmission to a child from a parent.

Illnesses or infection like leukemia or lupus could also cause Angioedema. Other factors that could increase risk of developing Angioedema include sudden changes in temperature, previous allergic reaction or occurrence of hives or Angioedema, injury, anxiety or stress.

Symptoms of Angioedema include swelling beneath the skin surface. The swelling may occur on the lips, eyes, hands and feet. The disease spreads to other body parts only in severe cases. There may or may not be welts or swelling on the skin surface. Other symptoms of Angioedema include cramps in the stomach and discolored rash or patches on the feet, arms and hands. The person may experience difficulty in breathing, hoarseness and swollen throat in rare cases.


Diagnosis of Angioedema is done by the doctor by checking out past medial history, performing a physical examination, examining areas of welts and swelling and checking out breathing. In some cases a series of blood tests are performed to measure levels of certain proteins in the blood.

Angioedema is treated with medications like terbutaline, ranitidine, epinephrine, anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines to relieve the intense swelling and itching. To help relieve symptoms, home remedies like wearing loose cotton clothes and applying wet and cool compresses to prevent scratching and soothe the skin are also useful.

Angioedema is easy to prevent by not irritating body areas that have been affected previously, avoiding suspected and known allergens and taking preventive measure to lower risk of getting the disease.