HAE is associated with subcutaneous, respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. Patients can present with skin edema that affects extremities, genitals, the face or other locations. Gastrointestinal wall edema presents with mild discomfort to severe pain accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhea. Laryngeal edema is the most dramatic manifestation of the disease and if not treated apropriately can endanger the patient's life.
Skin edema in HAE is nonwhealing, nonpruritic, persists several days and is never accompanied by urticaria. The symptoms of abdominal HAE attacks can mimic surgical emergencies and as a consequence some patients can unnecessarily undergo operation.
Attacks usually evolve within a single site, but it is not uncommon for some patients to have simultaneous involvement at two or three sites.
Angioedema attacks can be precipitated by minor trauma, emotional stress, infections or by certain drugs. Most patients recognize several hours in advance that an attack is coming, as sudden mood changes, anxiety, or complete exhaustion.
Last update: 08.25.2009