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Angioedema (Swelling Under the Skin)

Angioedema is an excessive collection of body fluids in the skin, which causes swelling. An allergic reaction can cause angioedema.

Angioedema can happen along with hives. A common location where angioedema can occur is around the eyes, lips, and face. Angioedema can also occur on other parts of the body, even in the throat. Angioedema of the throat can cause breathing difficulty. Angioedema of the throat is an allergic emergency. It requires immediate treatment with a medicine called epinephrine [ep-uh-NEF-rin].

What Causes Angioedema?

Angioedema may be caused by an allergic reaction to:

  • Latex
  • Pet dander
  • Cold or hot temperatures
  • Pollen
  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Food
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Drugs (allergy to a medicine)

What I Should I Do If I Have Swelling?

Call your health care provider if:

  • Your swelling is making you uncomfortable
  • You have never experienced swelling before

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • Your swelling is severe and covers a large area of your body
  • You have other symptoms such as difficulty breathing

Medical Review: October 2015