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My mother has this disease and it's horrible. Not many people know of this, even some doctors have no clue what it is, but it's a horrible, horrible thing to have. Angioedema (actually hereditary angioedema)was covered on an episode of House M.D. and I would've totally known it if they had shown it as bad as my mom has it.
What is it?
"Angioedema is the rapid swelling (edema) of the skin, mucosa and submucosal tissues. The skin of the face, normally around the mouth, and the mucosa of the mouth and/or throat, as well as the tongue, swell up over the period of minutes to several hours. The swelling can also occur elsewhere, typically in the hands. The swelling can be itchy. There may also be slightly decreased sensation in the affected areas due to compression of the nerves. Urticaria (hives) may develop simultaneously.
In severe cases, stridor of the airway occurs, with gasping or wheezy inspiratory breath sounds and decreasing oxygen levels. Intubation is required in these situations to prevent respiratory arrest and risk of death."
Sometimes it's caused by allergies, but most of the time there are no triggers. It can be really scary and make you look like a monster.