There are limited treatment options for angioedema so your choice will probably not be in which angioedema treatment option to pick, but in whether or not to receive treatment at all. This is because angioedema usually goes away on its own. When someone with angioedema undergoes treatment, it is usually to provide relief from bothersome or persistent symptoms. If you choose to receive angioedema treatment, you would probably use antihistamines or corticosteroids; if your angioedema is genetic, you might need medication that targets blood proteins.
Angioedema itself is a medical condition caused by an allergic reaction. Rarely is the condition inherited. It is similar to hives, but the swelling that occurs develops deeper in the skin.
Symptoms of angioedema include swelling and welts. Swelling usually develops around the eyes and lips, and welts can be itchy and painful. In severe cases, the swelling can be so sudden or serious that it causes abdominal cramping or breathing difficulties. If you experience trouble breathing due to swelling in your throat, you need to visit the emergency room.
You will not need angioedema treatment if your condition is mild, as it will heal within a few days. For a moderate or severe case, antihistamines offer relief from itching and swelling. Antihistamines are available with or without a prescription and can be classified as first generation or second generation. In general, the difference between first- and second-generation antihistamines is that those in the second generation are less likely to make you drowsy. Examples of antihistamines include desloratadine, diphenhydramine and loratadine.
In addition to antihistamines, oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can prove helpful in severe angioedema treatment. Oral corticosteroids can reduce itching, redness and swelling for awhile. In general, it is not safe to engage in long-term use of this type of medication. You can also try using topical corticosteroids, but usually, they don’t provide much relief from itching associated with this type of condition.
In the case of inherited angioedema, you will have to receive injections that target specific blood proteins, to manage or control your condition. Berinert®, Cinryze® and ecallantide are examples of medications that will help with this. Berinert® helps with acute attacks that occur in the face and abdomen while ecallantide works with acute attacks anywhere on the body. Cinryze® prevents an angioedema attack from occurring in the first place. You can learn how to inject Cinryze® and administer it to yourself every few days.