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Quincke’s edema, what is it? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Quincke’s edema, also known as angioedema, is a subcutaneous swelling that develops during an allergic reaction, taking certain medications or during a pregnancy.

Definition of Quincke’s edema

Quincke edema (also called angioedema), is characterized by subcutaneous swelling. This reaction is usually due to taking certain medications or an allergic reaction.

This reaction of the body is, in the majority of cases, without serious consequences. Nevertheless, in rare and extreme cases, the death of the patient is possible. And this, within the framework of an attack of the respiratory tracts. Effective treatments exist, to limit swelling and complications.

Anyone, regardless of gender or age, may be concerned about the development of this type of edema.


The different types of angioedema

Allergic edema

This type of edema is caused by the secretion of histamine, when the body is exposed to allergens. The most common allergies are: food, medicated, as a result of an insect bite or contact with latex.

Non allergic edema

This second type, in turn, develops as a result of an inflammatory reaction. It occurs, in most cases, when taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin for example.

Causes of Quincke’s edema

Different causes may be associated with this edema:

  • An allergic reaction: food, as a result of an insect bite, latex, etc.
  • Taking certain medications, such as hypotensive agents, ibuprofen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.
  • certain genetic factors, whose transmission is hereditary
  • following an injury or surgery
  • situations of stress and / or anxiety
  • the pregnancy
  • Some contraceptions.

The cause of this assignment may, however, remain unknown.

In the majority of cases, Quincke’s edema is treated very well as a result of appropriate treatment. Moreover, in the case of non-treatment, death may be the worst complication associated with this condition.

Symptoms of Quincke’s edema

The main clinical signs and symptoms of Quincke’s edema are:

  • Swelling of the skin, at the affected area. The edema usually appears gradually. It particularly affects: hands, feet, eye area, lips, tongue, or genitals.
  • The appearance of pimples (or even plaques of pimples), called urticaria, may also appear after a few days.


Other symptoms are less common but may be a sign of Quincke’s edema:

  • breathing difficulties
  • eye irritation ( conjunctivitis )
  • abdominal pain
  • of diarrhea
  • Weaknesses, more general, of the organization.

Risk factors for angioedema

The main risk factors for such edema are: taking certain drugs (especially NSAIDs), pregnancy, exposure to certain allergens, contact with latex, etc.

How to diagnose Quincke’s edema?

The first phase of diagnosis of Quincke’s edema is clinical, given the appearance of atypical symptoms. The questioning of the patient also makes it possible to find the origin.

Additional tests and analyzes may be the subject of a second phase of diagnosis: blood test, allergic tests, etc.

How to treat Quincke’s edema?

The treatment of edema depends on the cause of it.

In the context of an allergic reaction, the first step in the management will be the eviction of the causative agent (allergen). In this context, drug treatment is defined by antihistamines or steroids. Attention is still to be given in the context of such treatments. Adverse effects may be related to this: headaches, drying of the mouth and mucous membranes, etc.

If the edema is caused by the taking of certain drugs, the immediate stop of the one in question must be immediate.

Finally, if the cause is hereditary, drug treatments, such as danazol or oxandrolone, may help reduce the risk of edema.

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