You are here: » Signs and symptoms » Respiratory tract 

Respiratory tract

Swelling attacks involving the mouth or neck can be life-threatening, especially when they affect the larynx. In some cases, the airway may be completely obstructed in less than four hours. There is an acute danger of asphyxiation and death.

The first signs of impending angioedema in the laryngeal area include a feeling of a foreign body in the throat coupled with problems swallowing (dysphagia) and changes in the voice such as hoarseness, followed by a whistling noise during breathing (stridor).

Complete obstruction of the airway requires emergent intubation (introduction of a tube to allow breathing) or even surgical opening of the airway by means of procedures such as coniotomy (opening of the airway at the larynx) or tracheotomy (opening of the trachea).

The least suspicion of impending or developing swelling of the larynx should prompt you to seek out a physician immediately. Severe swelling of the tongue can also obstruct the airway.

In such situations, you should summon emergency medical assistance directly from the emergency services by dialling 112, 999 or 911 or the emergency number established for your area. Patients with a known bradykinin-mediated form of angioedema should inform the emergency physician or ambulance medic of this fact so that the appropriate treatment can be immediately instituted. It is best to always carry an emergency identification card listing the diagnosis and treatment recommendations as well as emergency medication.