There are times when I am able to identify an HAE attack fairly easily: I get out of bed in the morning to find my foot is swollen or my eyes are swollen shut. Other times it may be more difficult to tell. When I have an upset stomach, I wonder if it’s an HAE attack, or something else. Maybe it was that extra helping at dinner, or those jalapeño poppers that tasted so good but might not be agreeing with me now. I have kids—also known as germ-factories—maybe there is a stomach bug going around. However, I have also come to learn that many times an upset stomach will trigger an abdominal attack for me and will require treatment.
It would be great if a device existed to tell me when an attack is happening (anyone have an HAE-O’Meter?), but since that currently does not exist, it is up to me to know my body and take my best guess. Many times, I will self-assess based on my triggers: What has recently happened that may have triggered the symptom I am feeling? Has this triggered attacks before? I carry on these internal dialogues, because, as you may have realized by reading my earlier posts, I can be a stubborn guy who doesn’t want anyone else to know if I’m not feeling up to par.
But if I start thinking, My throat feels funny, but I do not have any issues with swallowing or breathing… Have I been around anyone who has been ill? Is it allergy season? I immediately tell someone around me what I am feeling and what they may need to do to help me. I also send an email to my doctor’s office as a heads up. I learned the hard way that laryngeal swells can be life-threatening, and whenever I get a strange feeling in my throat I monitor it closely. At the first symptom of swelling anywhere near my throat, I inject myself with FIRAZYR® (icatibant injection) (a medicine used to treat acute attacks of HAE in adults 18 years of age and older) the way I was taught by a healthcare professional, and then I immediately head to the emergency room just as my doctor and the Patient Information say.
Some of my attacks are easily recognized and others are nearly impossible to identify. The most important thing is to know my body and the signs it sends me. Also, I try to understand my consistent triggers, those that affect me with starting an HAE attack each and every time.
How do you keep track of what your “consistent triggers” are? Tell me in a comment below!
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