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My lips sometimes swell up to five times their normal size. I am not sure why this is happening. Just before they swell up I get a slight tingling sensation on the part of the lip that is about to swell up. I feel this sensation until the swelling goes down. Sometimes it lasts for four hours. When it is swollen it feels numb, but I still have feeling in the affected area. What can I do about it?

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The condition you described is possibly a form of angioedema. Just like in your case, the swelling can last from few minutes till several hours. It is due to an allergic response and in some cases the condition is inherited. In others cases the cause is often difficult to identify. The swellings happen especially in the lips and other parts of the mouth and throat. What happens is that small blood vessels deep in your skin or gut leak watery liquid through their walls, causing a swelling? Angioedema is life-threatening if swelling in your mouth or throat makes it difficult for you to breathe. Fortunately only a small minority of people with angioedema get these dangerous features. Angioedema is called 'acute' if it lasts only a short time (minutes to days) and does not keep coming back. A typical example would be angioedema caused by eating shrimps if you are allergic to them. If angioedema keeps coming back over a long period, it is called 'chronic angioedema'. Chronic recurrent angioedema most often does not have a cause which can be discovered. Treatment of angio-oedema is essentially the same as that of chronic urticaria unless there is airway involvement. If there is swelling in a mouth or throat, with difficulty in breathing or if this seems a danger the treatment consists of adrenaline (epinephrine) inhalers or injections. People, who have recurrent angioedema as a manifestation of anaphylaxis, should be referred to an immunology clinic, where they can be provided with an adrenaline syringe for use in future episodes.
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