Angioedema is a condition in which small blood vessels leak fluid into the deep dermal, subcutaneous and/or submucosal tissue, causing swelling. The swelling usually occurs around the face, lips and tongue but can also affect the throat, hands, feet and genital area.
Angioedema is most frequently related to the administration of ace (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor blood pressure medications. Although allergy is a very rare cause of Angioedema, it can still be triggered by food or drug allergies. Usually if the cause is allergy related, angioedema and hives will occur simultaneously.
An episode of angioedema typically lasts between one and three days, however can persist for weeks. Allergy-induced angioedema may be suspected if the swelling is rapid in onset but resolves within 24 hours. Swelling which persists for days or weeks is rarely caused by allergy.
Angioedema is not usually dangerous, and in general, most mild to moderate symptoms can be sufficiently treated with anti-inflammatory medications. Severe swelling of the throat or tongue is a medical emergency due to the risk for breathing difficulties and airway obstruction. Individuals should seek immediate medical attention.