Identifying Potential Triggers
It’s important to become familiar with your
hereditary angioedema (HAE) triggers so you can be prepared if an attack
Recognize your triggers
Although attacks of HAE are often unpredictable, some potential triggers have been
- Emotional or psychological stress
- Physical stress (eg, an injury, surgery, giving birth, or even dental procedures)
- Physiologic stress (eg, viral or bacterial infections)
- Hormonal fluctuations
Be aware of events, changes in medications, or situations that may precede or trigger
an HAE attack:
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- Keep a journal of the location and frequency of your attacks, including their duration.
- Be aware of patterns that may occur (such as emotional triggers, medication changes,
and, if you’re a woman, the timing in relation to your menstrual cycle).
- Record any physical warning signs or symptoms (such as tingling, fatigue, nausea,
flu-like symptoms, feelings of warmth, or rash), that could be the early signs of
attacks. Early recognition can lead to early treatment and may help thwart
a full-blown attack.
- Monitor medications, such as ACE inhibitors (for high blood pressure) or oral contraceptives.
Avoid situations that may spark an attack. And talk to your doctor before exposure
to any known triggers, such as dental work, surgery, or giving birth.
- For women, do not use contraceptives that contain estrogen.
- If emotional stress is a trigger, avoid highly charged situations. Enlist the help
and support of others when overwhelmed, and use coping strategies that work for
- Plan in advance for circumstances that may prompt an HAE event, and be prepared.
If you have HAE, avoid or minimize your exposure to these triggers as much as possible.
Talk to your doctor if you are having frequent attacks or know that you will be
exposed to a potential trigger, for example, before a dental procedure.
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Be prepared for an attack
For many people with HAE, an attack is not preventable. In that case, the best policy
is to be prepared:
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- Educate family, loved ones, and coworkers about your condition.
- Before you travel, locate a nearby treatment center. You can find one by visiting
HAEA.org. Discuss your medical condition and dental work options
with both your HAE specialist and your dentist, especially if you are considering
extractions or other dental work.
- Keep a diagnosis letter from your doctor with you at all times (Click here to see sample letters).
- Carry an emergency patient information card that communicates your medical
needs — in the event that you’re unable to relate important medical information.
This card should:
- Identify your condition
- Include a letter of diagnosis from your physician
- Provide family emergency names and numbers
- Supply your doctor’s emergency contact information
Avoid trigger medications
Pay careful attention to patterns of attacks and identify any medications (such
as contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, or ACE inhibitors) that may contribute
to the onset of your HAE attacks. Your physician can counsel you in the use of such
medications and, in some cases, steer you to alternative therapies. 6