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Angioedema…Act Immediately!

Home/"WVMC Voices" by Zac Woodruff/Angioedema…Act Immediately!

It was around 2pm on Saturday. I had just eaten a few bites of yogurt (I threw it out because it tasted gross) and an apple, when all of a sudden something happened.

I noticed that my lips began to feel weird. I have many food sensitivities, so I’m used to the feelings associated with eating something that doesn’t agree with me, but this was different. Something wasn’t right.

I went into the break-room and looked at myself in the mirror. WHOA! WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH MY LIPS!

I could almost see them swelling as I was looking at them. It felt crazy and was like nothing I had ever felt. I texted my wife, “something is going on with my lips right now”.

It was happening so fast. I took a picture (the picture you see in the post), so I could have something to document the start of this and show the doctor.

I called Dr. Khoury and told him something wasn’t right and I needed to see him right away. I met him in the emergency room and immediately when he looked at me, he knew something wasn’t right as well.

We talked about the two things that could most likely have caused this, either a reaction to food or a medication. We talked about what food I had just eaten and what medications I take and quickly concluded that I was experiencing the very beginning stages of angioedema and we needed to act right away.

Angioedema is swelling caused by a build-up of fluid in deeper layers of the skin. It is characterized by deep swelling around the eyes and lips and sometimes of the hands, feet, or genitals. Occasionally, angioedema of the throat, tongue or lungs can block or restrict the airways, causing difficulty breathing. This may become life threatening (WebMD, 2018).

I have seen plenty of people show up to our hospital and end up in life threatening situations due to allergic reactions, and due to the rapid onset of this angioedema; I knew we needed to act quickly.

I took some antihistamines and steroid tablets to help with the swelling, and then I had to wait it out to see if it got better or worse. That next hour or so, I’m not gonna lie to you, I was pretty nervous. I really want to thank my wife (via phone) and all of my coworkers on med surg, in the ED, the pharmacy, and Dr. Khoury for making sure I was okay and helping me calm down.

I’m usually pretty easy going and chill, but I think most of my wife and my coworkers could tell I was on edge and worried. After a little bit of time, I could tell that things weren’t getting any worse and that made me feel better.

Within a couple of hours, the swelling had completely stopped and began to recede. I was thankful to see that the antihistamines and steroids had worked and that things didn’t move in the wrong direction.

I share this story with you with the hope that if you or anyone you are with ever begins to experience something like this you need to seek medical attention right away. Do not wait for things to get worse.`

Most often, angioedema resolves in 24-72 hours and doesn’t require treatment. But, often enough, things move in the wrong direction very quickly and can become life threatening.

Please act immediately and seek medical attention the very moment you realize something like this is happening. If you are having any difficulty breathing, call 911. It is a medical emergency.

Cheers.

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