Spontaneous (ie, nontraumatic) lip swelling is usually painless. Itching may or may not be present. Cheilitis Cheilitis (lip inflammation) Lip inflammation may be generalized, or localized to one or more ulcers or lesions. Although some swelling may be present, the main manifestation is discomfort. Lip swelling with little or no... read more sometimes causes lip swelling, but patients typically present because of the painful inflammation and lesions.
By itself, lip swelling is not dangerous. However, when lip swelling is caused by angioedema Angioedema Angioedema is edema of the deep dermis and subcutaneous tissues. It is usually an acute mast cell–mediated reaction caused by exposure to drug, venom, dietary, pollen, or animal dander allergens... read more , concurrent swelling in the oropharynx and/or lower airways can be fatal.
Lip swelling may be acute or chronic.
Acute lip swelling may be caused by
Allergic reactions (eg, to foods, drugs, lipstick, airborne irritants, nickel)
Nonallergic drug causes (eg, angiotensin-converting [ACE] inhibitors Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors A number of drug classes are effective for initial and subsequent management of hypertension: Adrenergic modifiers Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors Angiotensin II receptor blockers... read more , calcium channel blockers Calcium channel blockers A number of drug classes are effective for initial and subsequent management of hypertension: Adrenergic modifiers Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors Angiotensin II receptor blockers... read more , certain fibrinolytic drugs Fibrinolytics Treatment of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) is designed to relieve distress, interrupt thrombosis, reverse ischemia, limit infarct size, reduce cardiac workload, and prevent and treat complications... read more )
Chronic lip swelling may occur with
Acromegaly Gigantism and Acromegaly Gigantism and acromegaly are syndromes of excessive secretion of growth hormone (hypersomatotropism) that are nearly always due to a pituitary adenoma. Before closure of the epiphyses, the result... read more (often with coarsened facial features and/or enlarged tongue)
Rare causes of chronic lip swelling include ongoing exposure to an unsuspected allergen, cheilitis granulomatosa, and Crohn disease Crohn Disease Crohn disease is a chronic transmural inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the distal ileum and colon but may occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include diarrhea... read more .
The first step in evaluation is to assess airway patency and establish and control the airway Airway Establishment and Control Airway management consists of Clearing the upper airway Maintaining an open air passage with a mechanical device Sometimes assisting respirations (See also Overview of Respiratory Arrest.) read more if necessary. Diagnostic inquiry focuses on potential causative exposures and underlying diseases.
Treatment includes elimination of identified causes and treatment of causative diseases. Corticosteroid ointment or antihistamines (eg, diphenhydramine) may be used for allergic lip swelling. Surgical removal of chronic excess lip tissue may have cosmetic benefit.
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