Hereditary Angioedema, or HAE, A Few Facts
By Stephanie Dawson
Hereditary Angioedema, or HAE, is a rare inherited disorder also known as Quincke’s disease. Its caused by low levels of C1 inhibitor, an important protein. The hallmark symptoms include swelling, restricted breathing, abdominal cramping, and swelling of the intestines. Medical events often trigger symptoms after many years of dormancy. Diagnosis is made through various tests and traditional medicine offers a variety of treatments as do natural remedies.
Those with HAE can have rapidly swelling legs, arms, eyes, intestinal tract, hands, feet, tongue, and throat. When the throat swells this disease can rapidly become fatal. Intestinal swelling can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, pain, abdominal cramping, dehydration, and shock. Attacks can come on and become more rapid late in childhood and during teen years, in other cases an even like dental work, illness, or surgery can trigger sudden onset of symptoms. Often family members are unaware of the disease in other relatives. Genetic counseling is an option for anyone with a family history.
Blood tests are preferably done during an episode and include C1 inhibitor function and levels, C2 and C4. Itching or hives can usually rule this out as a diagnosis. Causes begin with heredity, there is a higher demand for C1 inhibitor and less available. This increases vascular permeability which allows fluid to escape outside the cells where it belongs, this causes the rapid edema.
Traditional treatment includes antihistamines which are somewhat helpful. A supply of norepinephrine should be on-hand for emergencies. A C1 inhibitor concentrate is rather effective but harder to come by. Fresh frozen plasma and androgens are also used with some success. During an episode the victim may end up in hospital with IV fluids and painkillers. The prognosis can be grim depending on severity of symptoms. If not hospitalized an episode can leave a person very weak and unable to carry out daily functions.
A few herbal medicines have shown success with this disease, these are meant to accompany a doctor’s advice, not replace it. Alfalfa root is helpful with edema at about 2-3 grams daily to detoxify the body, using more can trigger stomach upset and diarrhea. Coriander seed tea can help alleviate edema, talk to a respected herbalist for dosage recommendations. Other hers that can be used are dandelion, Horsetail, parsley, Uva Ursi, and Butcher’s Broom, these can be potent diuretics and will interact with other medications, inform your doctor of everything herbal you use.
If you have any symptoms see your health care provider as soon as possible. Swelling of the throat can turn tragic rapidly, you will need immediate medical attention. If you have a history of the disease and want to have children consider genetic counseling.
Also there is a short 30-minutes movie about this mysterious condition that you can find it on Amazon.