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Angioedema in Children: Care Instructions


Angioedema is swelling in the deep layers of the skin. Swelling can also happen in the tissues that line the mouth, throat, and other organs. Angioedema can sometimes occur along with hives. Hives are an allergic reaction in the outer layers of the skin.

Angioedema can range from mild to severe. Painful swelling can develop on the face and in other parts of the body. Swelling in the belly can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, the inside of the throat can swell and make it hard to breathe.

Many things can cause this condition, including foods, insect bites, and medicines. The condition also can run in families. Sometimes you may know what caused your child's reaction, but other times you may not know.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes. Some medicines used to treat angioedema can make children sleepy.
  • See that your child avoids foods or medicine that may have triggered the swelling.
  • For comfort, have your child:
    • Take a cool bath. Or you can place a cool, wet towel on the swollen area.
    • Avoid hot baths and showers.
    • Wear loose clothing.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine for you and your child to carry in case your child has a severe reaction. Learn how to give your child the shot, and keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired. If your child is old enough, teach your child how to give the shot.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think your child is having a severe allergic reaction.
  • Your child has symptoms in more than one body area, such as mild nausea and an itchy mouth.

After giving an epinephrine shot, call 911 even if your child feels better.

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your child's body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
    • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. (A baby with pain or nausea may be really fussy and not stop crying.)
  • Your child has been given an epinephrine shot, even if your child feels better.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Mild belly pain or nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.