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Angioedema: Differential diagnosis and treatment

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Conditions causing angioedema can be loosely classified as those with underlying C1-inhibitor deficiency or dysfunction and those that do not. Determining the root cause of symptoms and ruling out conditions that masquerade as angioedema help clinicians plan appropriate management. The various etiologies of angioedema have overlapping symptoms that can complicate the diagnosis. An awareness of features unique to a specific cause of angioedema will aid in the differential diagnosis. A thorough history may reveal a family history of episodic swelling, bouts of swelling associated with medication use, or swelling associated with certain foods or environmental allergens. Similarly, a history of symptom onset later in life is more common in acquired angioedema. The presence of urticaria suggests an allergic component. Treatment strategies have been devised for all forms of angioedema, although specific therapeutic targets may be unknown. Several medications directed at the underlying cause of symptoms in hereditary angioedema have been recently approved for use in the United States. Clinical symptoms, differential diagnosis, and management strategies for angioedema are reviewed in this article.

Keywords: Acquired; allergy; angioedema; diagnosis; hereditary; idiopathic; treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Division of Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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