Causes of Swollen Lips
Swelling of the lips may be more than just a sign of physical trauma. Sometimes, people may be allergic to aspirin or peanuts, for instance. In some cases, people may develop a certain syndrome that predisposes them to lip swelling. Fortunately, the causes of swollen lips can be treated effectively.
Drug allergies occur when people are allergic to a certain class of medications. MedlinePlus says that adverse drug reactions are common and can lead to such symptoms as swelling of the lips, face or tongue. Drug allergies also cause hives, itching of the skin or eyes, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Fainting, lightheadedness, a rapid pulse, vomiting, nausea, confusion and stomach cramping are other symptoms of drug allergies.
In a drug allergy, the body's immune system sees the drug as a foreign invader and mounts an attack. Sulfa, insulin, anticonvulsant medications and iodinated contrast dyes for x-rays are just some drug allergies that exist.
MedlinePlus says that treatment for drug allergies involve taking such medications as antihistamines to relieve itching and hives. Corticosteroids can decrease inflammation while bronchodilators can reduce wheezing episodes. Also, epinephrine can be used to treat troubled breathing, as it rapidly dilates the airways.
A food allergy can also lead to swelling of the lips. MedlinePlus says that other symptoms of a food allergy include itchy lips and an itchy tongue, nausea, stomach pain, a runny nose, fainting, shortness of breath and vomiting. Nasal congestion and swelling of the eyes, face and tongue are additional food allergy symptoms.
Like drugs, the immune system can see certain foods as foreign invaders. Specifically, the body will make a protein called IgE against a certain food such as peanuts, eggs, wheat, milk or shellfish.
The only way to effectively manage a food allergy is to avoid the food that causes this allergy. It is also important to have injectable epinephrine handy in case a severe allergic reaction ensues.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says that Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome is a condition that begins in childhood or adolescence. Specifically, these children or teens have frequent episodes of facial paralysis and swelling of the face, lips and tongue. Over time, the swelling can become permanent and the lips may become hard and cracked.
Unfortunately, the NINDS says that the cause for Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome is unknown but genetics may play a role.
Treatment involves managing the symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticostersteroids can be used to decrease any swelling. Other medications used in Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome include immunosuppressants and antibiotic medications. Sometimes, surgery may be indicated to reduce the tissue swelling.
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