Introduction: Angioedema, a sudden, self-limited swelling of localized areas of any part of the body that may or may not be associated with urticaria, is thought to be the result of a mast-cell mediated process versus a bradykinin etiology. Understanding the mechanism is key in determining the proper treatment. Areas Covered: Clinical presentation of varying angioedema types may be similar; however, the appropriate treatment algorithm is dependent upon clinicians' knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology and classification of angioedema. Literature review of recent guidelines, available medications, and alternative therapies was completed to provide an overview of options.
Conclusion: There are no formal guidelines for treatment of acute or chronic histamine-mediated angioedema, and therefore, algorithms for the treatment of acute and chronic urticaria should be followed until such information becomes available. Differentiating histamine-mediated versus bradykinin mediated angioedema is essential, as treatments and treatment responses are quite different. Further research is needed to better understand idiopathic angioedema that is unresponsive to H1/H2 antagonists, LTMAs, or medications designed to treat bradykinin-mediated angioedema.
Keywords: Angioedema; guidelines; histamine; histamine-mediated; mechanism; pathophysiology; treatment.