HAE Symptoms

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

HAE Triggers2

Understanding HAE triggers can help you 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.

Patient-Reported Triggers
  • Physical exertion
  • Mental stress
  • Mechanical trauma
  • Infection
  • Weather changes
  • Menstruation
  • Medical/dental procedures
  • Food
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Pregnancy
  • Estrogen-containing oral contraceptive use

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

Learn About HAE Treatment Options


  • [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. Accessed January 19, 2020.
  • [7] US Hereditary Angioedema Association. Patient Guide: Understanding HAE!
  • [8] Lumry WR. Hereditary Angioedema: The Economics of Treatment of an Orphan Disease. Front Med (Lausanne). 2018 Feb 16;5:22.