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Avoiding hereditary angioedema (HAE) triggers

If you have hereditary angioedema (HAE), you may find yourself making sacrifices in your daily life to avoid triggers. You might stay away from certain foods or cancel travel plans to prevent disrupting your sleep routine. Or perhaps you pass on certain responsibilities, like household chores, because you're worried about an attack.

Once you've identified your triggers, your doctor will likely suggest you avoid them as much as possible. But steering clear of your triggers is only one way to help manage your HAE. If you're constantly distracted by the thought of your next attack, it might be time to talk to your doctor about what more you could be doing.

Just like life, HAE changes over time. If you have HAE, it's a good idea to be aware of how your HAE has changed and how that can impact your life.

Everyone has different HAE triggers

HAE can vary a lot from person to person, so your triggers might be very different from those of someone else who has HAE.

Here are some of them:

Emotional stress

Minor trauma, surgery, or dental procedure


Hormonal influences, like menstruation or using a contraceptive containing estrogen

Repetitive activities such as mowing the lawn or using scissors

If you have HAE, you should discuss any triggers, including exercise, with your doctor.

HAE attacks are unpredictable—they can happen without warning or the presence of an obvious trigger. For example, attacks can be triggered by stress from life events that may include:

Starting a new job

Having a child


School exams


It's important to stay in communication with your doctor and have an emergency plan in place in case you need help. You should also consider talking to your doctor about on-demand and preventive treatments available.

Get to know your HAE triggers

Keeping track of your life with HAE can help you identify your own triggers and the impacts on your life. Once you have a better understanding of how HAE impacts your life, bring these learnings to your doctor.

The HAE Assessment Tool is a great resource for starting a discussion about the impact of your HAE.


What is hereditary angioedema (HAE)?

Hereditary angioedema is a rare, unpredictable, debilitating, and potentially life-threatening genetic disorder. It can cause attacks of painful, disabling swelling anywhere in the body. These symptoms can change over time. Characteristic locations for HAE attacks include the face, hands, feet, genitals, abdomen, and throat.

Most people with HAE don't have enough of a protein called C1 esterase inhibitor (C1-INH), or the protein their bodies produce does not work the way it should, which contributes to a cascade of events in the body. This cascade causes another protein called plasma kallikrein to trigger the increased production of a third protein called bradykinin. Having too much bradykinin causes the blood vessels to release fluid, resulting in localized swelling.

It's important to remember that an HAE attack that affects the throat is potentially life-threatening, because it puts you at risk of suffocation. Make sure you have a plan in place for this type of attack and seek emergency care as soon as possible.

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