At Asthma and Allergy Associates, PC in Colorado Springs we have taken care of patients with swelling concerns for many years. The medical term for swelling is angioedema. This word comes from the latin words for blood vessels, angio- and swelling, edema. So, blood vessel swelling is angio-edema.
Many patients with swelling or angioedema come to our clinic with concerns of environmental and food allergy triggers. Some of these patients get better with typical anti-histamines like Benadryl®, Claritin® or Zyrtec®. Others have swelling that is so severe and frightening that they get injections of Epinephrine and high doses of steroids. Fortunately, most patients respond to these therapies.
However, there is a rare condition associated with swelling attacks. And it DOES NOT RESPOND to anti-histamines, steroids or epinephrine.
What Is Hereditary Angioedema?
Not responding to the usual medicines is a sign that this person might have Hereditary Angioedema (HAE). HAE is caused by a missing blood protein inhibitor called C1. Low or dysfunctional levels of C1 Inhibitor are called HAE type 1 & 2, respectively. These conditions are rare affecting about 1/50,000 people. This is a very difficult diagnosis to make. The lab tests are very specialized and require special care once the blood is drawn. Fortunately, over the past 10 years a lot of new medicines have been studied and approved by the FDA for treatment and management of HAE.
Third Type of HAE
There is a THIRD type of HAE. This is even harder to identify. It is more rare than HAE types 1 and 2. There is NO POSITIVE LAB TEST to identify it. These patients typically suffer for years with multiple health concerns. And in the past few years, some ‘research-only’ lab tests can identify the cause of this swelling. Also, many of the medicines we use for HAE type 1 and 2 will also work for the THIRD type of HAE. At Asthma & Allergy Associates we are experts at identifying all causes of swelling and angioedema. If you or someone you care about is having swelling attacks, then please give us a call for further evaluation and treatment. Another resource is the US HAEA Organization:
We are currently enrolling patients in research studies for ALL TYPES of Hereditary Angioedema (HAE).