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Hives and Angioedema

Facts on Hives and Angioedema

  • Hives are slightly raised, smooth, flat-topped bumps that are usually slightly more reddish in color than the surrounding skin and cause severe itching.
  • Hives come on suddenly due to an allergic reaction.
  • One of every five people will have hives at some time in their lives.
  • The medical term for hives is urticaria.
  • Angioedema is an allergic reaction like hives, only the welts are larger and form in a deeper layer of the skin. Angioedema causes severe swelling, usually in the face, near the eyes and mouth.
  • The swelling of angioedema can also occur in the inside of the throat, which is a dangerous situation because it can impair breathing by closing off the passage of air into the lungs.
  • Hives and angioedema can occur together, but they usually do not.
  • The most common rash for which people seek emergency medical care is hives.
  • Hives and angioedema can happen at any age, in children or adults.
  • Many different things can be triggers for hives and angioedema, including infections, stress, exercise, changes in the environment, and insect bites and stings. In up to half of cases, no specific trigger can be identified.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2016

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Symptoms and Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Hives

  • Symptoms and signs of an allergic reaction include any, some, or many of the following:
    • Skin: irritation, redness, itching, swelling, blistering, weeping, crusting, rash, eruptions, or hives (itchy bumps or welts)
    • Lungs: wheezing, tightness, cough, or shortness of breath
    • Head: swelling or bumps on the face and neck, eyelids, lips, tongue, or throat, hoarseness of voice, headaches
    • Nose: stuffy nose, runny nose (clear, thin discharge), sneezing, postnasal drip
    • Eyes: red (bloodshot), itchy, swollen, or watery or swelling of the area around the face and eyes
    • Stomach: pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody diarrhea
    • Other: fatigue or feeling tired, sore throat, dizziness, or lightheadedness

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Angioedema »

Angioedema is a subcutaneous extension of urticaria, resulting in deep swelling within subcutaneous sites.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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