Quincke’s edema, also known in technical terms as angioedema, usually refers to painful swelling of the skin that occurs suddenly. The face is particularly frequently affected, especially the tongue, throat, eyelids and lips. The swellings usually occur repeatedly and can also be life-threatening in the throat area.
What is Quincke’s edema?
Doctors understand Quincke’s edema to mean a sudden swelling of the subcutaneous tissue. Usually it is a clearly visible, painful swelling that affects the face and throat mucosa particularly badly.
Under certain circumstances, however, the genitals or the intestinal mucosa can also swell, which manifests itself in severe pain. Quincke’s edema can last up to three days and can occur repeatedly at fairly short intervals. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Quincke’s Edema.
It occurs in children and adults alike and requires medical treatment, especially if the neck and throat area is affected.
Quincke’s edema often occurs as part of an allergic reaction. Food intolerance or insect bites in particular can lead to the typical swelling.
These are usually accompanied by hives. Under certain circumstances, Quincke’s edema can also be hereditary. In this case, it is the reduced formation or malformation of a protein that ultimately causes the swelling.
In comparison, hereditary Quincke’s edema occurs much less frequently than allergy-related ones. In some cases, there is also the typical swelling without a direct trigger being recognizable.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Quincke’s edema is primarily manifested by swelling of the eyelids, lips, tongue and throat. This can also be accompanied by swelling and irritation on the mucous membrane, often accompanied by symptoms such as difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath. The symptoms of Quincke’s edema develop insidiously.
It usually takes several days for the initially slight redness to develop into pronounced edema. Accompanying symptoms such as pain and itching appear as the growth grows. The swollen eyelids can lead to blurred vision. Those affected then see everything twice, for example, or suffer from a loss of visual field on one or both sides.
Lip swelling can lead to serious tissue injuries. Difficulty swallowing can also cause the sufferer to eat or drink too much. This can lead to weight loss and deficiency symptoms. If Quincke’s edema occurs in connection with an allergic shock, other symptoms can arise.
Fever, shortness of breath, sweating, tachycardia. Life-threatening swelling in the throat can also occur. If the edema is treated professionally, it will go away on its own after a few days. Itching, redness and other skin irritations will then quickly disappear.
Diagnosis & History
The attending physician can often recognize Quincke’s edema based on the characteristic appearance. Tissue samples are rarely required. A detailed conversation and a look at the medical history can also help with the diagnosis. If Quincke’s edema has already occurred once or several times in the family, this can indicate a hereditary disease.
Ultimately, a special blood test can be used to find out whether the individual case is allergic or hereditary Quincke’s edema. The edema can usually be treated well. In the case of allergic edema, the trigger must be identified and avoided. If the swelling occurs acutely, it should always be treated medically. If the throat and pharynx are affected, it can lead to shortness of breath and, in the worst case, suffocation. The person concerned should therefore consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Various complications can occur as a result of swelling of the tongue, eyelids, lips and throat. A swollen tongue often extends into the throat and narrows the airway. The swelling also causes shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing, which can sometimes trigger aspiration.
Swollen eyelids are usually associated with vision problems and can cause serious injury if the eye tissue is displaced. In the case of lip swelling, there is also a risk of serious tissue damage. In addition, the functionality in everyday life is limited due to the problems with speaking. Occasionally, the throat and larynx swell in addition to the face. Then there is acute danger to life.
Further complications occur as a result of an allergic shock, which is often associated with cardiovascular problems. During treatment, the use of antihistamines, adrenaline and anti-inflammatory drugs can lead to side effects and interactions. If a tracheotomy has to be performed due to swelling in the throat, a scar usually remains. Occasionally, infections and wound healing disorders occur. As a result of the hormone treatment, headaches, exhaustion, nausea and vomiting and dizziness can occur. Late effects usually do not occur.
Treatment & Therapy
Acute Quincke’s edema can be treated quite quickly by the attending physician. The prerequisite for this is the prior precise determination of the cause.
An allergy-related Quincke’s edema can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. For example, the doctor can inject cortisone preparations, adrenaline, calcium or antihistamines directly into the vein to quickly relieve the symptoms. If the trigger for the allergic reaction is known, it must be avoided in the future to avoid further outbreaks.
In contrast, hereditary Quincke’s edema cannot be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. The only solution here is intravenous administration of the malformed protein. If there is difficulty breathing due to swelling in the throat, a tracheotomy may be necessary to prevent the patient from suffocating.
If swelling occurs frequently with hereditary Quincke’s edema, therapy with male sex hormones can also be considered. These generally increase protein production and can thus prevent the painful swelling. However, since the administration of hormones usually also has undesirable side effects, this type of treatment should only take place after careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages.
Quincke ‘s edema can be prevented above all if it is caused by an allergy. If the trigger can be determined, the patient receives an allergy pass and must try to avoid the triggering substance(s) in future so that no more allergic reactions can occur.
Hereditary Quincke’s edema cannot be directly prevented. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor when symptoms occur and to work out the most effective treatment method possible with him. In this way, potentially life-threatening conditions can be prevented.
Quincke’s edema usually resolves completely without special aftercare. Therefore, there is no need to take any further action. Depending on how severe the edema was and whether the airways were also involved, the patient may need to be monitored in hospital. In the event of a recurrence of angioedema, rapid intervention is possible.
After the first occurrence of Quincke’s edema, it should be clarified what caused it. It may be necessary to conduct detailed research together with the patient. Despite a careful search, in some cases it cannot be clarified to which stimulus the body reacted with increased permeability of the vessel walls.
In all other cases, however, the patient can avoid the trigger in the future in order to prevent a recurrence of the clinical picture. If it is not possible to reliably avoid the trigger, emergency measures can be discussed with the patient. If there is a fear that the person affected will be exposed to the trigger again, they can carry glucocorticoids with them as emergency medication in the future. In this way, it is possible to react more quickly if Quincke’s edema should occur again.
You can do that yourself
Quincke’s edema is primarily treated by avoiding the causative substance. In addition to medication, dietary measures as well as massages and alternative treatment methods are suitable for this. A well-balanced diet with lots of vitamins and minerals has proved its worth. High-fat foods, caffeine and alcohol should be avoided. Sugar and highly dehydrating foods should also be avoided, as they can increase the development of angioneurotic edema.
In addition, stress and physical exertion should be avoided. Affected people can also support medical treatment by taking various natural medicine preparations. We recommend, for example, aloe vera and sage, which have a calming effect on the skin and thus help to reduce the swelling of the angioedema. If the measures have no effect, the responsible doctor must be consulted again.
Accompanying the symptomatic treatment, the cause of the skin changes must always be determined. On the one hand, this is achieved with the help of a patient’s diary, in which the occurrence, severity and accompanying symptoms of the edema are noted. On the other hand, any triggers at work or at home should be considered and gradually ruled out. This and the use of the home remedies and self-help measures mentioned can be used to treat angioneurotic edema in the long term.