Hereditary Angioedema: Its Causes, Symptoms And Natural Treatment

Hereditary angioedema also referred to as the Quincke’s disease, is a relatively rare condition resulting in altered immune system, which is passed from generation to generation. Since the condition is linked with a genetic defect, currently there is no cure for this condition. The condition is caused due to improper functioning or low levels of a protein – C1 esterase inhibitor, which results in repeated attacks of edema throughout the body.

Current treatment therapies include use of attenuated androgens, antifibronolytic agents and C1 esterase inhibitor replacement therapy, however most of these treatment regimens have limited efficacy. As genetic science advances, there is hope for people affected with this condition.

Causes Of Hereditary Angioedema

The condition is caused when there is a higher demand of C1 esterase inhibitor, compared to the available amount of functional C1 esterase. The primary function of C1 esterase is to turn off the immune system, however the deficiency of this enzyme leads to higher level of bradykinin, which in turn increase vascular permeability. Increased vascular permeability results in leakage of fluid into the surrounding area, resulting in edema or swelling.

Reports have suggested that there are certain trigger factors like stress, infection, pregnancy, injury, menstruation, and certain drugs like oral contraceptives and dental procedures, which may trigger an attack of hereditary angioedema.

Hereditary angioedema is classified into three types, depending nature of the defect. Type I is associated with low levels of C1 inhibitor protein levels, which is the most common type, Type II is associated with normal levels of C1 inhibitor, but with abnormal functions and in Type III while the C1 inhibitor protein level and function are dependent on estrogen. Some experts suggest that there is a fourth type called acquired angioedema, which is usually drug induced and there is no family history.

Hereditary Angioedema Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms associated with hereditary angioedema include the following,

  • Blockage of the airways, which results in sudden hoarseness and swelling in the throat
  • Frequent and recurrent attacks of abdominal cramping without any apparent cause
  • Sudden swelling of the tongue, throat, lips, eyes, legs and arms
  • Intestinal swelling which can be associated with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, pain, dehydration and shock.

Diagnosis: There are certain blood tests that can help in the diagnosis of the condition. These tests need to be performed during an acute episode of swelling. These tests include C1 inhibitor function test, C1 inhibitor blood level and complement components test for C4 and C2.

Natural Treatment For Hereditary Angioedema

Hereditary angioedema attacks can range from mild to severe which may be associated with life threatening situation, especially when involved in the swelling and obstruction of the air passage. Further, during attacks, the individual’s quality of life is severely compromised and he may be unable to perform some of the most routine functions.

While the treatment options are fairly limited and depend on the extent to which they alleviate some of the symptoms, there are certain natural treatment options that might be beneficial,

  • Alfalfa herb is considered useful in dealing with symptoms of edema. Take about 2 to 3 grams of active ingredient each day which will help detoxify the body. Overdose can trigger stomach upset and diarrhea.
  • Herbs like parsley, dandelion, Uva Ursi, Butcher’s Broom and Horsetail work as natural diuretics and can help in alleviating some of the symptoms. However these herbs may interact strongly with prescription medicine and hence should be taken only after consulting your doctor.
  • Coriander seed tea is also beneficial in alleviating symptoms of edema.

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