Recognizing the Onset of HAE Attacks

Attacks of hereditary angioedema (HAE) may occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes, however, people with HAE begin to recognize common symptoms occurring at the very early stage of an attack. These symptoms are called prodrome or prodromal symptoms. 1, 2

Common prodromal symptoms reported by people with HAE include sudden mood changes, rash, irritability, aggressiveness, anxiety, extreme fatigue, or a tingling sensation of the skin where the swelling will begin. Some people may experience symptoms minutes or hours before a full attack begins; others may experience symptoms a day or two in advance. 5

Recognizing prodromal or early-onset symptoms is vital because HAE attacks can be extremely serious, and may require immediate medical attention. The following symptoms can indicate a serious situation:

  • Throat swelling can block the airway and is therefore life-threatening; such attacks require immediate emergency care. Some of the symptoms of throat swelling may include a hoarse voice or laryngitis, difficulty in swallowing, a feeling of tightness, and voice changes. If you experience or believe you are about to experience this type of attack, call your local emergency number.
  • Intestinal swelling can cause intense, "colicky" abdominal pain that can progress to nausea and vomiting. Intestinal swelling is often misdiagnosed as an abdominal disorder, such as appendicitis, a bowel rupture, or an obstruction. Many undiagnosed HAE patients undergo unnecessary surgery because abdominal attacks often mimic surgical emergencies. 1

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Identifying potential triggers

Even though HAE attacks are often unpredictable, some are triggered by stress, hormones, and even medications. See why it’s important for you to identify and avoid potential triggers.

Treating HAE

As a person with HAE, you need to recognize the importance of becoming your own advocate, recognizing and monitoring symptoms, learning about treatment, and working with your doctor. Learn more about treating HAE