What is angioedema caused by?

Angioedema – the name sounds fancy, but what on Earth is it? The answer may surprise you. No, it’s not a rare flower found only in some remote corner of the world where humans have never set foot. It is an allergic reaction that causes swelling in various parts of your body – including your face and throat (scary, I know). As with all things medical, it can be caused by many factors. Here we will take a closer look at these factors.


The cause behind angioedema could very well be as simple as something you are allergic to (no need to panic quite yet). Just think about when you accidentally ate peanuts or consumed shellfish even though you’re deathly allergic. Remember how quickly your lips swelled up like overripe tomatoes? That was just one example of this kind of angioedema.


Sometimes medications that we rely on for our health can harm us instead (Thanks Health Class!). Many drugs come with side effects, and sadly swollen extremities happen to be one such effect for certain medications. #Potassium Pills are known culprits… ^(I warned ya: Fancy terms!)

It doesn’t matter whether they were prescribed or bought from some lady lurking next door who claims she’s got the cure-all; either way, if medication has been introduced into our systems recently and we suddenly develop hives (which appear slightly elevated and red), there’s a chance the drug might be responsible.

Hereditary Factors

Believe it or not – sometimes family genes play an essential role today…in causing diseases (What fun!). Inherited angioedema affects approximately 1 in every 50K people worldwide^[source?] and is caused by a mutation in the gene that controls a protein called C1 inhibitor. This condition can result in swelling because of excess fluid buildup.


“Stress will kill ya'” – haven’t we all heard this more times than we’d like to admit? Well, when it comes to angioedema, there’s some truth to this statement (Scary, right?!). The term “stress-induced hives” exists for a reason. If one is under massive stress (be it due to work, home life, or even their beloved sports team losing again), then they’ve got an increased chance of developing this lovely ailment.

But wait! It gets worse: Not only does stress make us itchy and scaly as angry dragons’ hides but these seemingly ‘innocuous’ hives could very quickly evolve into the dangerous type of swelling mentioned above (read: cheeks puffing up like Paris Hilton after getting her wisdom teeth removed).

Food Components

What you eat affects your body; everyone knows this – but did you know food components might cause angioedema? Histamine-rich foods such as aged cheese^[source], fermented wine ([]poor me!), and other savory delicacies may trigger histamine responses if one has #histamine intolerance^(Again with the fancy terms!).

It’s not just histamines either…Salicylates & food colorings can be culprits too! These sneaky components are found in everything from maraschino cherries ^(yummm…) []to breakfast cereals ^([]the things doctors don’t tell ya!).

As varied as the numerous allergens behind its onset(Ain’t that fun – NOT AT ALL.), so too do symptoms vary across individuals. Common features involve:

  • Swelling beneath skin that appears red/pinkish
  • Edema in any part of their body (commonly face, lips)
  • Possible fever/chills
  • Sometimes a hardened “rash” that is fainter in color may occur.

It’s important to note: If swelling develops near our nasal passage or throat (Holy moly!)…run to the hospital like you’ve just found out the sale rack has an 80% off discount!

So there we have it folks – angioedema isn’t something only medical professionals should discuss. It affects us all and can hamper our day-to-day life if left undiagnosed. By keeping these potential causes of this allergy-induced disease in mind, I hope one might recognize its symptoms early on and take action promptly!

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