HAE Symptoms

Learn about the symptoms of a Hereditary angioedema (HAE) attack and understand the importance of minimizing attacks.

HAE Attacks

HAE attacks are unpredictable. Some people will have one or two swelling attacks a year, while others may have one every one or two weeks. Many people have their first attack in childhood; attacks typically worsen after puberty and persist through adulthood.1

Prodromal symptoms can commonly precede HAE attacks. Swelling occurs within the skin and/or mucous membranes and can be extremely painful. Symptoms are usually worse during the first 24 hours and can last up to a week.1 Depending on the area of the body affected, people may not be able to leave the house—to go to work or to school for example—which can have a significant impact on their lives.8

HAE symptoms most often affect three areas of the body—skin, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and upper airway.4

Skin swelling can cause pain, dysfunction, and disfigurement. Common affected areas on the face include the lips and eyes.

  • Face
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Genitals
  • Buttocks
GI Tract
Swelling along the GI tract, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the intestines, can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

  • Stomach
  • Intestines
  • Bladder
  • Urethra
Upper Airway
Swelling in the upper airway, which includes the tongue and throat, can affect the ability to breathe and become life-threatening. However, most attacks resolve before the airway closes completely, but the feeling can cause anxiety. Approximately 50% of people with HAE will experience at least one airway attack.7

  • Throat
  • Tongue

HAE Triggers2

Understanding HAE triggers can help people avoid those triggers. It is not possible to avoid all triggers, such as a medical procedure, but your doctor can help you prepare for and manage an attack should one occur.

People with milder disease may know what their triggers are, but those triggers may not always result in an attack. Those with more severe disease will more often experience an attack after a trigger.

Recognizing early signs of an attack can help you treat symptoms quickly and possibly avoid a full-blown attack.

Learn How to Treat HAE Symptoms Early

Importance of Minimizing HAE Attacks

HAE attacks are emotionally and physically exhausting and can sometimes be life-threatening. People with HAE have reported that the disease has impacted their ability to go to school, work, and have a family.

Proper, timely treatment of HAE attacks can reduce the time lost at work or school and minimize the number of visits to the hospital. People report that they can pursue their educational and career goals. Treatment can improve quality of life and overall health.8

FDA-approved generic treatment options are now available.


[1] Lumry WR. Overview of epidemiology, pathophysiology, and disease progression in hereditary angioedema. Am J Manag Care. 2013;19(7 Suppl):s103-110.
[2] Zotter Z, Csuka D, Szabó E, et al. The influence of trigger factors on hereditary angioedema due to C1-inhibitor deficiency. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2014;9:44.
[4] Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Hereditary angioedema. National Institutes of Health. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/5979/hereditary-angioedema. Accessed January 19, 2020.
[7] US Hereditary Angioedema Association. Patient Guide: Understanding HAE! https://www.haea.org/assets/img/PatientGuide061819.pdf.
[8] Lumry WR. Hereditary Angioedema: The Economics of Treatment of an Orphan Disease. Front Med (Lausanne). 2018 Feb 16;5:22.