Hereditary angioedema is a rare but serious problem with the immune system that is passed down through families. It causes swelling, particularly of the face and airways, and abdominal cramping.
See also: Angioedema
Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is caused by low levels or improper function of a protein called C1 inhibitor. This problem affects the blood vessels. People with hereditary angioedema can develop rapid swelling of the hands, feet, limbs, face, intestinal tract, larynx (voicebox), or trachea (windpipe).
Attacks of swelling can become more severe in late childhood and adolescence.
There is usually a family history of the condition. However, relatives may be unaware of previous cases, which may have been reported as an unexpected, sudden, and premature death of a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent.
Dental procedures, sickness (including colds and the flu), and surgery have been shown to trigger certain attacks of hereditary angioedema.
Dreskin Sc. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 273.
Levi M, Choi G, Picavet C, Hack CE. Self-administration of C1-inhibitor concentrate in patients with hereditary or acquired angioedema caused by C1-inhibitor deficiency. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;117(4):904-908.
Visy B, Fust G, Bygum A, et al. Helicobacter pylori infection as a triggering factor of attacks in patients with hereditary angioedema. Helicobacter. 2007;12(3):251-257.
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