Angioedema is a swelling that is similar but can be more serious to hives; it is caused by swelling under the skin, instead of the actual skin itself. It is potentially life-threatening because it can affect the airways, hence reducing oxygen supply to the lungs. The digestive tract can also be affected, usually in the form of abdominal cramps. It is usually due to an allergic reaction, but a hereditary form does exist in which no allergic cause is believed to exist.
The treatment usually consists of antihistamines, corticosteroids (analogues of the steroid hormone, cortisol; they suppress the immune system), adrenaline (epinephrine) injections in severe cases and ranitidine (brand name: Zantac) for digestive symptoms.
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