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[angio- + edema]
A condition marked by the development of edematous areas of skin, mucous membranes, or internal organs. It is frequently associated with urticaria. It is benign when limited to the skin but can cause respiratory distress when present in the mouth, pharynx, or larynx. It is usually the result of a type I hypersensitivity reaction. Histamine released during an immunoglobin E antibody reaction to allergens such as drugs, foods, or infections causes vasodilation and increased vascular permeability, producing the characteristic nonpitting, nondependent swelling that distinguishes it from regular edema. The nonallergic forms of angioedema are hereditary angioedema, which is caused by a complement deficiency, and anaphylactoid reactions.
SYN: SEE: angioneurotic edema; SEE: Quincke's disease
Antihistamines are used first for immediate relief. Epinephrine is used if swelling of the upper airways compromises breathing.