Angioedema and Anaphylactic Shock

Sufferers of severe allergies may, at some point, experience angioedema or anaphylactic shock.


Angioedema is a sub-type of urticaria. It often appears in the face, lips and eyelids. It happens suddenly, causing swelling of the mucous membranes in the throat and larynx, creating a feeling of suffocation. The causes of angioedema are the same those of urticaria.

Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock can be a life threatening allergic reaction. It occurs suddenly in all of the body's tissues. In exceptional cases, attacks can develop into a severe condition and, very rarely, be fatal.

Anaphylactic shock begins with general itching followed by an urticarial, hive-type rash that gradually extends over the entire body. This is followed by angioedema, where deeper tissues, like the throat, are affected. Shortness of breath (e.g. acute asthma), caused by airway narrowing, quickly follows. These symptoms are followed by nausea and abdominal pain. Within a few minutes, arterial blood pressure falls, the heart rate accelerates, and fainting can occur.

The allergens usually responsible for an anaphylactic shock are medicines, anesthetics, latex, wasp or bee stings, and food. Anaphylactic shock requires urgent medical treatment, as adrenalin needs to be injected. Adrenalin has the opposite effect on the inflammatory mediators released during this acute reaction.

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