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Angioedema is a swelling of the area beneath the skin that causes puffiness. The swelling may occur in the face, eyelids, ears, mouth, tongue, hands, feet, or genitals.

Why choose UPMC in Central Pa. for angioedema treatment?

If you have angioedema, it is important to be treated by a specialist who understands the condition and can make a proper diagnosis. An understanding of the root cause of your angioedema results in more effective treatment.

Diagnosing Angioedema

Your allergist will examine your welts or areas of swelling and take a careful medical history to identify possible causes. In some cases you may need an allergy skin test. If your doctor suspects you have hereditary angioedema, he or she may order a blood test to check for specific blood proteins.

Treatment for Angioedema Caused by Allergies

The treatment for your angioedema depends on what is causing it and the severity of your reaction. If your angioedema is severe you will need to be treated in a hospital right away. At the hospital, the staff will give take necessary steps to stop the allergic reaction and help ease your symptoms.

If your symptoms are mild, you might not need treatment. However, you may be prescribed:

  • Antihistamines. Your doctor might recommend that you take medicines called antihistamines. These are the same medicines people take for seasonal allergies.
  • Steroids. Steroids can help with itching and reduce swelling. Do not take steroids for any longer than you need them as they can cause serious side effects.
  • You should try to determine what triggered your symptoms and learn how to avoid that trigger. If your angioedema is a reaction to a medicine you took, your doctor will switch you to a different medicine.

Treatment for Hereditary Angioedema

People with hereditary angioedema get repeated attacks which include belly pain or swelling in the throat. These attacks usually go away after two to five days, but they can become dangerous if the swelling in the throat cuts off your air supply. You can be tested and treated for hereditary angioedema.

Patient Education for Angioedema

Our specialists will provide the education and information you need to manage your angioedema - including avoiding triggers and medication management.

What is a angioedema?

Angioedema is a swelling around the face, eyelids, ears, mouth, tongue hands, feet, or genitals. Angioedema can appear similar to hives, but the conditions are not the same.

Hives (urticaria) are red, raised patches of skin that are very itchy. They affect only the top layer of skin, whereas angioedema affects the deeper layers and tissues. Some people who get angioedema also get hives.

What are the symptoms of angioedema?

Signs and symptoms of angioedema include:

  • Large, thick, firm welts
  • Swelling and redness
  • Pain or warmth in the affected areas

Sometimes, people have symptoms of angioedema when they are having a dangerous allergic reaction. Dial 911 if you suddenly have puffiness or hives plus any of the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Tightness in your throat
  • Trouble swallowing your saliva
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramps or stomach pain
  • Passing out

Who is at risk for angioedema?

People with allergies are at risk for angioedema. Allergies to the following are the most common triggers:

  • Medicines such as antibiotics, ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure or heart disease, or OTC medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Insect stings
  • Foods, such as eggs, nuts, fish, or shellfish
  • Touching plants, animal saliva, or latex
  • Exercise

Angioedema can also be caused by rare diseases that sometimes run in families, such as hereditary angioedema.

How can I prevent angioedema?

You can lower your chances of getting angioedema by avoiding foods, medicines, or insects that cause you to have an allergic reaction. If you get angioedema often, your doctor might recommend that you take antihistamines every day.



Specialty Care ENT – UPMC
508 S. Washington Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Phone: 717-334-8171
Fax: 717-334-8172

Specialty Care ENT – UPMC
250 Fame Avenue
Suite 201, (Entrance A)
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-633-9229
Fax: 717-633-5552

UPMC Allergy and Immunology
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
21 Waterford Drive
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Phone: 717-988-9180
Fax: 717-775-5723


Need more information?

Many of our providers offer video visits. Call the office or schedule via your patient portal.

Phone: 717-988-9180

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