Quin­cke's ede­ma / Quincke's dis­ease / Angio­ede­ma

Quincke's edema
Quincke's edema

Quincke's edema, also called angioedema, is a swelling that affects deeper skin layers, often around the eyes and lips. In most cases, the condition is harmless, and it’s treated with antihistamine medication. However, Quincke's edema can be life-threatening if swelling causes the throat or tongue to block the airway of the affected person.

Symptoms of Quincke's edema

Signs of the condition might be:

  • Swelling below the skin surface
  • Redness
  • Large, thick, firm welts that may be painful
  • Swelling around lips, eyes, sometimes on the feet, hands and throat
  • Pain or warmth in the affected areas
  • Swelling of the mucous membranes in mouth and throat
  • Breathing difficulty

Causes and origin of Quincke's edema

Quite often, the cause of Quincke's edema is not found. It may be the result of an allergic reaction during which histamine and other chemicals are released into the bloodstream. The condition might be caused by animal dander, foods, insect bites, medicaments, exposure to sunlight, cold, heat, pollen, etc. or by an infection or other illnesses, such as autoimmune disorders.

In fewer cases, Quincke's edema is hereditary: It runs in the family of the patient.

Consequences of Quincke's edema

If swelling causes the throat or tongue to block the airway, the condition threatens the life of the affected person.

Prevention and therapy of Quincke's edema
 Inhaler spray may open up the airways
Inhaler spray may open up the airways

A person with mild symptoms usually doesn’t have to be treated. Only moderate to severe signs may require treatment. However, if a patient has breathing difficulties, it’s an emergency: The swollen throat or tongue has led to a severe airway blockage that can be life-threatening for him/her. It’s recommended that people with Quincke's edema avoid any known allergen or trigger that may result in their symptoms.

Moreover, they shouldn’t take any medicines, herbs, or supplements that are not prescribed by a doctor. Cool compresses or soaks can relieve pain. Medicaments against angioedema include antihistamines, anti-inflammatory medicines, epinephrine shots, and inhaler medicines that open up the airways.

Preventive measures

If Quincke’s edema is caused by an allergy, it may be prevented if the patient avoids all those allergenic substances. However, it cannot be prevented completely if the disease runs in the family. But the physician of the affected person may develop a method of treatment together with the patient. In this way, life-threatening conditions won’t probably occur.