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What is Quincke's edema and how to prevent it
What is Quincke's edema and how to prevent it

Even aspirin can lead to fulminant and deadly allergies.

What is Quincke's edema and how to prevent it
What is Quincke's edema and how to prevent it

When you need to urgently call an ambulance

The first and most obvious symptom of Quincke's edema is swelling, an increase in the size of the soft tissues of the face, head, neck, arms, legs. Puffiness itself is not that dangerous. But it can block the respiratory tract, cause malfunctions in the work of the brain or internal organs - up to peritonitis.

Here are signs that allergic edema is life threatening:

  • breathing is difficult, wheezing appeared;
  • throat seems to be constricted;
  • lips, tongue, neck are noticeably swollen;
  • problems with speech - she became barking, indistinct;
  • nausea, vomiting, acute abdominal pain;
  • the heartbeat has become rapid;
  • dizziness, headache, intolerance to loud sounds or bright light, clouding of consciousness up to its loss;
  • the swelling seems to be small, but the person has already had dangerous allergic reactions in the past.

If, in addition to swollen soft tissues, you observe at least one of these symptoms, immediately call an ambulance at 103. Literally every minute counts.

What is Quincke's edema

Almost everyone is familiar with allergies in one form or another. It is a violent reaction of the immune system to some external irritant - an allergen.

The body perceives it as a threat and produces substances that could bind the irritant and remove it. Including histamines and prostaglandins. Among other things, these compounds increase the permeability of the walls of blood vessels, especially capillaries.

In simple words: the liquid from the capillaries enters the surrounding tissues. Therefore, allergic reactions are almost always accompanied by swelling. For example, think of the swelling that forms when a bee stings. Or swollen mucous membranes with hay fever.

How many histamines and prostaglandins the body produces in response to a stimulus depends on the individual settings of the immune system. If the immune system responds with a loading dose of such compounds, this will lead to a lightning-fast and large-scale release of lymph into the tissue. This situation is called angioedema (this is not an entirely accurate definition: it was previously believed that the release of fluid in the tissue is associated with dysfunction of nerve endings). Or Quincke's edema - by the name of the doctor who first described this failure in 1882.

A complication of Quincke's edema is anaphylactic shock, which leads to hypoxia, a sharp drop in blood pressure and even death - within a few hours or minutes after contact with an allergen.

Where does Quincke's edema come from?

Even experienced doctors cannot always give an exact answer to this question. It is customary to distinguish four types of Quincke's edema.

1. Allergic

The most common type. As a rule, it is associated with an individual reaction of the body:

  • for food;
  • pollen;
  • dandruff, wool, down of animals and birds;
  • bites of insects and other poisonous animals;
  • latex;
  • toxins in the air, water, household chemicals;
  • low or high ambient temperature.

2. Medication

In fact, it is a drug allergy. According to observations, most often Quincke's edema occurs as a reaction:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Similar drugs are used to treat hypertension and heart failure. They are associated with about 30% of all cases of angioedema.
  • Common pain relievers are aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Penicillin - It is found in some antibiotics.

3. Hereditary

Sometimes the tendency to angioedema can be a family, inherited feature. In this case, episodes of Quincke's edema arise and disappear in several family members at once.

4. Idiopathic

This is the name for those cases of Quincke's edema in which it is not possible to establish the cause. This is the most dangerous type because it is impossible to predict when and to what the immune system will react.

How to treat Quincke's edema

If we are talking about a really serious allergic reaction (the symptoms are listed above), call an ambulance immediately. While she rides Anaphylaxis / Mayo Clinic:

  • If possible, eliminate contact with the allergen, if known.
  • Place the person in a position that is comfortable for him (on his back or on his side), raising his legs.
  • Make breathing easier - unbutton your shirt or blouse, remove your tie.
  • If the person has an epinephrine autoinjector, immediately inject the drug into the outer thigh.
  • If necessary - if the victim is not breathing or has no heartbeat - start cardiopulmonary resuscitation: mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, chest compressions.
  • And we repeat once again: do not hesitate to call an ambulance!

You can try to reduce the swelling by giving the victim an over-the-counter antihistamine (but be sure to consult a doctor, at least by phone!). Compresses also help reduce swelling: apply a towel dipped in cold water on the swollen area.

How to prevent or relieve Quincke's edema

Unfortunately, doctors do not yet know how to treat the immune system so that it does not react to allergens so actively. But you can take measures that will reduce the risk of Quincke's edema or alleviate its consequences.

1. Avoid those situations that provoke allergies

If you know your trigger, do your best not to contact it again. Be less outside during the flowering period of the allergen plant, exclude dangerous products from the diet, avoid bees and wasps, do not use household chemicals that irritate the skin.

2. If you are prone to allergic reactions, carry an epinephrine autoinjector with you

Check with a physician or allergist before buying. A prescription may be required.