Rare Gastroenterology News

Disease Profile

Acquired angioedema

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Angioedema, acquired; Acquired C1 inhibitor deficiency


Acquired angioedema (AAE) is a rare disorder that causes recurrent episodes of swelling (edema) of the face or body, lasting several days. People with AAE may have swelling of the face, lips, tongue, limbs, or genitals. People with AAE can have edema of the lining of the digestive tract, which can cause abdominal pain and nausea, as well as edema of the upper airway, which can be life-threatening.[1] Swelling episodes may have various triggers, such as mild trauma (such as dental work), viral illness, cold exposure, pregnancy, certain foods, or emotional stress.[2] The frequency of episodes is unpredictable and can vary widely.[1]

There are two forms of AAE. Type 1 is associated with various other diseases including lymphoproliferative disorders, and autoimmune diseases that may not become apparent until years after the angioedema begins. Type 2 is associated with an autoimmune abnormality in which a person has autoantibodies against a protein in the blood called C1-INH.[1][3] In some cases, it is hard to distinguish between AAE types 1 and 2.[1]

Treatment options depend on the severity of symptoms, the parts of the body affected, and the type of AAE a person has. Various medications may be used to relieve symptoms or prevent complications. When an underlying disease is present, episodes may stop if the underlying disease is treated, but some people continue to experience episodes despite treatment.[1] During severe or life-threatening episodes, intensive support may be needed (such as IV fluids or intubation for a blocked airway).[1]


Episodes of swelling (edema) in people with AAE often begin after the fourth decade of life. Edema can develop in various parts of the face and body. It usually lasts for 2 to 3 days, but rarely may last for up to 5 days. The frequency of episodes is unpredictable and can vary widely among people with AAE, as well as over time in one person.

Edema may develop in the face, lips, tongue, hands, arms, legs, genitals, or buttocks. The face and limbs are most commonly affected. It may also develop in the abdominal organs (such as the stomach, intestines, or bladder), which can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. The upper airway can also be affected, which can be life-threatening if the airway becomes blocked. 

When AAE is associated with an underlying disease such as a lymphoproliferative disorder or autoimmune disease, other symptoms associated with the underlying disease may also be present.[1]

This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Abdominal pain
Pain in stomach
Stomach pain

[ more ]

5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
Facial edema
Facial puffiness
Facial swelling

[ more ]

Intestinal edema
Intestinal obstruction
Bowel obstruction
Intestinal blockage

[ more ]

Laryngeal edema


The resources below provide information about treatment options for this condition. If you have questions about which treatment is right for you, talk to your healthcare professional.

Management Guidelines

  • Orphanet Emergency Guidelines is an article which is expert-authored and peer-reviewed that is intended to guide health care professionals in emergency situations involving this condition.


    Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

    Organizations Supporting this Disease

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

      • DermNet NZ is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.
      • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.

        In-Depth Information

        • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
        • The Merck Manual for health care professionals provides information on Acquired angioedema.
        • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
        • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
        • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Acquired angioedema. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


          1. Moon AT. Acquired Angioedema Due to C1 Inhibitor Deficiency. Medscape Reference. June 29, 2017; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1048887-overview.
          2. Peter J. Delves. Hereditary and Acquired Angioedema. Merck Manuals. March, 2014; https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/immunology_allergic_disorders/allergic_autoimmune_and_other_hypersensitivity_disorders/hereditary_and_acquired_angioedema.html. Accessed 8/25/2014.
          3. Laurence Bouillet. Acquired Angioedema. Orphanet. August, 2011; Accessed 8/25/2014.
          4. Cicardi M. Acquired C1 inhibitor deficiency: Management and prognosis. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; February 20, 2018; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acquired-c1-inhibitor-deficiency-management-and-prognosis.

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