When it comes to our immune system, hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare disease that greatly impacts it at how it can control inflammation.
Some of the causes of this genetic disease involve excessive sweating and swelling in the gastrointestinal system. The reported number of people with this disease is in the ratio of 1 in 40,000 people. This disease isn’t exclusive to a region in the world.
HAE attacks the gastrointestinal system when a person hits puberty. HAE attacks can occur multiple times in the day, making it difficult for us to control sweating and swelling. The disease attacks very unpredictably, very frequently, and failing to manage it causes further problems.
The biggest problem surrounding this disease is the fact that symptoms overlay with allergic reactions, making it very difficult to diagnose.
Furthermore, common illnesses and illnesses to the gastrointestinal system share the same symptoms as the disease, which further adds difficulty to the diagnostics.
Some of the illnesses that share the symptoms include pancreatitis, appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
Failing to treat this disease has the potential of making your life very difficult, even potentially disrupting it on a daily bases. It even goes so far that some medical experts have labeled it as a “life-threatening disease” as excessive inflammation could lead to the closing of airways.
Early Signs of an HAE Attack
HAE attacks begin before the swelling or sweating; at least a few hours. There are early signs that point out towards an attack and some of them include:
• Feelings of anxiety or discomfort
• Sudden fatigue or loss of energy
• Sudden changes of mood; going from happy to sad as an example
• Tightening of the skin; usually a sign of where the swelling will occur
• The occurrence of rashes that don’t itch
These are early signs that an HAE attack is about to occur, and now we’ll discuss signs and symptoms of HAE
Signs and Symptoms of HAE
We mentioned that HAE follows after an attack. Just like signs of HAE attacks, some signs and symptoms point out that you have the disease. Some of these can be managed, while others require medical intervention and are treated as an emergency.
· Skin Swelling
This is probably the least of your problems when it comes to HAE. Usually, skin swelling is the first sign and symptom that you have HAE. It starts with a slight tightening of the skin, followed by very painful and very extreme swelling.
The swelling can last up to three days, which usually decreases afterward. However, you should treat it as soon as it occurs. This symptom can occur anywhere on your hands, feet, genitals, buttocks, and even your face. You can simply imagine how painful and inconvenient this disease makes everyday life.
· Abdominal Swelling
A more serious area that HAE affects is the abdomen. Serious as it is, it is still a very common area of effect for the disease. Experts such as wearehae.co.uk, professionals that focus around helping people treat HAE, say that the abdomen tract makes around 50% of all HAE attacks.
Some of the signs and symptoms of abdominal swelling include vomiting and nausea as the least severe ones, followed by dehydration, diarrhea and severe stomach pain which can be described as knife stabbings.
Some of these symptoms can be very difficult to manage, and most think they require surgery. This is especially in the case for people that aren’t even aware of HAE, which they mostly mistook it for other diseases and conditions.
· Throat Swelling
The most serious symptom of HAE, throat swelling can potentially put your life at risk. Estimates report that as much as 50% of all HAE cases involve throat swelling to some degree. The swelling could be minimal or it can be severe, at which the disease turns into life-threatening.
Throat swelling is caused by inflammation and it can make it difficult for you to speak, swallow and breathe. If any experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately seek medical attention and even call for them to come to your door. In the worst case, the throat swelling is so extreme that it can potentially block your airways, at which point you’re facing death.
It is ill-advised to treat this symptom at home since various methods don’t actually do anything to help.
What Causes HAE?
It goes without saying that there isn’t anything concrete as to what triggers or causes this disease. Some people experience it randomly, while others due to certain events.
Some of the most common triggers or causes for a person to develop HAE are anxiety or stress, surgery, various environmental and physical factors, various medications, foods, illnesses, etc.
HAE, sadly, is a condition categorized as “lifelong”, meaning you can really make it definitively go away. Even if you do manage to treat it, it will come back at some point in your life.
Attacks occur randomly, without any definitive warning, and they can last for hours before the actual hereditary angioedema occurs. You should look for signs as to how to recognize an attack and make the sane judgment of seeking medical attention once the condition kicks in.
This condition should be mistaken for an allergic reaction, as both are severely different in the latter stages. The best way to treat and prevent HAE is to take medication on a regular bases. This gives you the best chance of preventing hereditary angioedema attacks.
If you frequently suffer from HAE, keeping some kind of log on the symptoms and signs will give you a better understanding of how to recognize and intervene in the future. Attacks can occur without a warning, usually between one and two weeks, and can last up to three and even in some cases, four days.
It goes without saying that HAE can be successfully dealt with careful and timely management. Even if you are prone to this condition, managing it can lead to a normal life. Make sure to consult with a medical expert before taking any medication.