Before you go to the doctor…

This will help you to be well prepared for your visit with the doctor!

Answer these questions

Write down your answers to these questions and share your responses with your doctor.

  • Do other members of your family suffer from similar symptoms?
  • Has there ever been a case of death by asphyxiation in your family?
  • How old were you when you first experienced symptoms?
  • Have you ever received medications such as cortisone and antihistamines for treatment of your swelling attacks? If yes, was this treatment successful?
  • How frequently do these swelling attacks occur?
  • How severe are the attacks?
  • After how many hours does the swelling reach its maximum extent? How long does it take before the swelling goes away?
  • Do you ever have gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramping, colicky pain, vomiting, nausea or diarrhoea?
  • Do you have itchy wheals?

Bring a list of all your medications

It is important to make a list of all the medications you are currently taking, including any drugs that you have obtained without a doctor’s prescription. For each medication, record the following information:

  1. Name of the medication
  2. Reason for its use
  3. Date you started taking the medication
  4. At what dose and how many times per day do you take it (e.g., how many tablets and how many times each day)

Also record medications that you do not take regularly, such as pain relievers taken for occasional headaches or for other aches and pains. Try to remember how many times you need to take this medication each month and the date and reason of your last use of that medication.

With respect to your medications, your physician will focus very specifically on the following questions:

Record the findings of previous examinations and bring these to the appointment

If you have previously consulted a doctor to discover the cause of your swelling attacks, you should describe the examinations and findings. It is helpful to record these briefly (up to one page), focusing on when the examination occurred, what was examined and what findings were reported. If you have written documentation from these examinations, please bring a copy to your appointment, arranging them in reverse chronological order (i.e., from most recent to most remote).

Keep a journal to chart your symptoms

Recording your symptoms in a calendar or swelling chart can help you and your doctor to better understand the course of your illness. A detailed record can also help to identify triggers and causes, especially if you don’t know what form of angioedema you suffer from. During or after an attack, take a few minutes to record when the symptoms started and describe exactly how they progressed. It is also important to recall what preceded the attack. For example:

  • What foods or beverages did you consume in the hours leading up to the attack?
  • Were you under unusual stress or did you exercise physically?
  • What had you been doing prior to appearance of symptoms?
  • At the time that symptoms began did you suffered from an infectious illness, such as a cold?
  • What medications were you taking at that time or shortly before?

Photograph your skin changes

Angioedema attacks do not usually occur every day and may not be present when you see your doctor. It can, therefore, assist your doctor in understanding your symptoms and illness more accurately to take colour photographs of any visible swelling and other skin changes. When taking photographs of the skin changes, it is important that the images are as “true to life” as possible. Adequate illumination (indirect, natural daylight is best; avoid flash or neon lighting) and distance (at least 30 cm/12 inches), and a dark background (e.g., a dark bed sheet) are helpful.