Angioedema (Swelling)

Angioedema refers to swelling deep under the skin, primarily around the cheeks, lips, and eyes. It often appears quickly, clears up spontaneously, and leaves no scarring.


While typically found on the face, swelling may also occur on the hands, feet, and genitals. Angioedema can be accompanied by urticaria (hives) or can occur on its own. Welts may be painful, raised, firm, and/or itchy. Occasionally, patients experience a swollen airway, which can result in difficulty breathing or swallowing and is considered a medical emergency.


Allergic reactions to food such as shellfish and peanuts, medication (aspirin, ibuprofen, and penicillin, among others), and insect bites can result in allergic angioedema, which is the most common type. Non-allergenic angioedema results from the use of certain medication including ACE inhibitors. Rarely, hereditary (genetic) angioedema is associated with an immune system dysfunction.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

A clinical exam by one of our experienced allergy specialists will enable us to begin the process of identifying allergens that may be causing your angioedema. Depending on your individual symptoms and history, we offer diagnostic procedures including skin testing, food challenges, and blood testing.

We will discuss avoidance measures to decrease the burden placed on your body by the allergen. If this does not solve the problem, we have several treatment options available, including medications and immunotherapy (allergy shots). Immunotherapy builds up tolerance to specific allergens. Patients who go the allergy shot route frequently receive a personalized, tailored Cluster Immunotherapy plan from our doctors, which provides faster results than traditional immunotherapy.

Angioedema (Swelling) Facts