What causes angioedema?

Angioedema is most frequently caused by an allergic reaction. As part of that reaction, your body will release histamine, a chemical that causes swelling. Alternatively, your angioedema may be hereditary and caused by gene mutations. In some cases, the cause of angioedema may not be found.

Common causes of angioedema

Nonhereditary angioedema may be caused by a variety of conditions or events including:

  • Allergies, including those to dander, foods (for example, nuts and shellfish), medications (for example, ACE inhibitors or penicillin), pollen, and bites or stings
  • Strenuous prolonged exercise
  • Stress

Less common causes of angioedema

Nonhereditary angioedema is less frequently caused by more serious underlying conditions or diseases including:

  • Bacterial or viral infections leading to diseases such as hepatitis
  • Cancer, such as lymphoma or leukemia
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)
  • Thyroid conditions

What are the risk factors for angioedema?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing angioedema. Not all people with risk factors will get angioedema. Risk factors for angioedema include:

  • Allergies
  • Personal or family history of angioedema
  • Underlying disorder such as lupus, lymphoma, or thyroid disease

Reducing your risk of angioedema

Angioedema is most frequently the result of an allergic reaction. Therefore, avoiding known allergens is the best way to reduce your risk of developing angioedema.


What is angioedema?

Angioedema is a condition similar to hives in which areas of raised, itchy skin appear. However, in contrast to hives, which appear on the surface of the skin, angioedema affects deeper layers of the skin. Angioedema may occur anywhere, but is most commonly found around the eyes and around and in the mouth.... Read more about angioedemaintroduction


What are the symptoms of angioedema?

Symptoms of angioedema generally include skin symptoms that resolve within several days. However, severe angioedema can be persistent and lead to more severe symptoms.... Read more about angioedemasymptoms


How is angioedema treated?

Angioedema is typically not a serious condition and will usually resolve on its own without treatment. If severe enough to cause breathing difficulties, hospitalization and respiratory support are necessary.... Read more about angioedematreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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