What is angioedema?

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Angioedema: Overview

Angioedema is swelling in the deep layers of the skin. Swelling can also happen in the tissues that line your mouth, throat, and other organs. Angioedema can sometimes occur along with hives. Hives are an allergic reaction in the outer layers of the skin.

Angioedema can range from mild to severe. Painful swelling can develop on the face and in other parts of the body. Swelling in the belly can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, the inside of the throat can swell and make it hard to breathe.

Many things can cause this condition, including foods, insect bites, and medicines (such as aspirin and some blood pressure medicines). It also can run in families. Sometimes you may know what caused the reaction, but other times you may not know.


Angioedema is swelling that develops under the skin and in the tissues that line some organs. Painful swelling can develop on the face and in other parts of the body. Swelling in the belly may cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Angioedema may appear as a reaction to a substance (allergen). Allergens include medicines, foods, insect bites, animal dander, and pollen. Angioedema also may appear during changes in temperature or emotional stress, or after an infection or illness. It can also run in families.

Most cases of angioedema will go away within a few days without treatment. However, swelling in the throat can interfere with breathing and may be life-threatening. Angioedema also may be a sign of a more serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) that requires emergency care. Since angioedema can get worse quickly, a person with this condition should be evaluated by a doctor.

How can you care foryour child who has angioedema?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes. Some medicines used to treat angioedema can make children sleepy.
  • See that your child avoids foods or medicine that may have triggered the swelling.
  • For comfort, have your child:
    • Take a cool bath. Or you can place a cool, wet towel on the swollen area.
    • Avoid hot baths and showers.
    • Wear loose clothing.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine for you and your child to carry in case your child has a severe reaction. Learn how to give your child the shot, and keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired. If your child is old enough, teach your child how to give the shot.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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