Angioedema can have a variety of symptoms, depending on the part of the body affected. The symptoms may appear suddenly, with the onset taking from only minutes to a few hours, rather than days.
The main symptom is swelling deep within the skin, caused by an accumulation of fluid.
The angioedema symptoms can be visible swelling, especially when the angioedema affects parts of the face such as the lips and eyelids, or when it involves the hands or feet. If the swelling affects internal organs, such as the intestine or the throat, it can cause internal symptoms. When the swelling is external, it may be painful and may feel hot. It also is sometimes red and inflamed. Swelling can be accompanied by a raised, itchy rash. This is known as hives (urticaria).
Angioedema can occur as an isolated symptom, in conjunction with skin changes such as hives, flushing or a blotchy redness, or as part of an allergic reaction.
When swelling is around the eyes, vision may also be affected, and the eyes may be red and irritated (conjunctivitis).
Intestinal swelling can cause severe abdominal pain, nausea and cramping. Throat swelling can result in difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing. Angioedema of the throat also can be life-threatening and requires emergency care to ensure that the swelling does not close off the person's airway.
Angioedema usually lasts a matter of hours to days, but the length of time can vary from one person to the next and also from one episode to the next for a given person. Medications are sometimes a necessary treatment to stop the swelling and itching.