Angioedema also referred to as angioneurtotic edema or welts are simply medical terminology used to describe an allergic reaction. Although associated with swelling, or hive like structures on the surface of the skin, a person can suffer from this condition without experiencing this particular symptom. This type of reaction can actually have significantly different symptoms and multiple causes. Despite that there are different types of this condition; this text refers to acquired angioedema (AAE).
Signs and Symptoms
As previously mentioned, angioedema may be accompanies by welts in various areas of the body. This can include the upper and lower extremities, the face and throat. They are most often noted around the eyes or lips of the patient though, making the appearance of a line or can be scattered out. Pallor and itching often accompanies these welts. Depending on the severity and type of allergy, the person may also experience problems breathing, swelling and sometimes abdominal pain and cramps.
Causes of Angiodema
In some cases, the causes of welts may go unknown. This is due to the large number of potential allergens. A few allergies commonly associated with angioneurotic edema include bee stings, food allergies, such as nuts and even reactions to medications. The more minor causes may consist of irritation caused by the more common allergens, such as pollen, insects and sometimes dander.
How is It Diagnosed?
Diagnosing AAE is often quite simple. Typically, the physician can tell by the overall appearance whether or not the welts are a result of an allergic reaction. In less extreme cases that do not require emergency intervention, allergy testing may be performed to not only diagnose the condition but to try and identify the potential cause. However, in an emergency situation, treatment takes priority over making a definitive diagnosis.
Acquired Angioedema Treatment Options
This type of allergic reaction can be treated in a variety of different ways. For example, those allergic to bee sting may require an epinephrine pen. However, more drastic measures may be utilized if the situation becomes life threatening. This can include the use of intubation to open up the airway. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, bronchodilators and corticosteroids are also commonly utilized to treat welts. These treatments can prevent the conditioning from worsening, decrease the effects and promote the comfort of the patient.
Prevention of Angioneurotic Edema
In some cases, this condition may not be entirely preventable. This may be especially true if the individual is unaware of their allergy. However, those that are should avoid exposure to the allergen. If the person has experienced welts in the past, he or she may want to consider allergy testing as well. It is important to remember with acquired angioedema though; the body can become allergic to a substance without warning, even if this was not a problem in the past.
Angioedema. University of Maryland Medical Center. Reviewed 13, June 2010. Viewed 03, January 2011. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/angioedema-000011.htm
What is Angioedema? MedHelp. Reviewed 28, April 2008. Viewed 03, January 2011. http://www.medhelp.org/medical-information/show/3297/Angioedema?page=0#sec_21647