Reviewed by Flavia Cecilia Lega Hoyte, MD

Angioedema is localized swelling of one or several areas of the body. It can be distinguished from other common causes of edema (swelling) by the following characteristics:

  • Rapid in onset (minutes to hours) instead of gradual over days to weeks

  • Asymmetric, meaning it is not balanced and the swelling can change shape

  • Angioedema can involve the throat, lips, face, genital region, hands and feet and intestines

  • Most other causes of edema affect mainly areas of the body that are “dependent,” such as the lower legs and ankles, due to the effects of gravity.

  • Is often accompanied by hives and can even be part of anaphylaxis, which is a full-body allergic reaction.


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