A growing number of angioedema sufferers are seeking treatment in Southeast Asia, thanks to new advances in medical technology available in the region. Angioedema is a disorder characterised by urticaria affecting the skin and mucosal tissues of the gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tract. It is most commonly hereditary, but can also be acquired, idiopathic, or associated with underlying allergic reactions. Although rare, it can cause severe, incapacitating pain and put the patient’s life at risk when the swelling causes complications such as fatal asphyxiation. Thus, patients require personalised care plans and possibly lifelong medical management under the supervision of angioedema specialists.
Angioedema specialists can be difficult to find especially in developing countries. Most of these specialists can be found in developed countries such as the US and the UK, where the treatment for angioedema has originated. Thankfully, the growing demand for medical tourism in Southeast Asia has prompted many of its doctors to seek training and experience in dealing with angioedema abroad. Thus, angioedema specialists can now also be found in Asia’s leading medical tourism hubs, namely Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Patients suffering from angioedema can also seek the help of an allergist, especially if their condition is associated with allergic reactions. Southeast Asia is also home to several allergists and immunologists with international training and board certifications. These specialists can also help patients manage their symptoms and find the specific allergens or irritants that are causing the problem.
As for hereditary angioedema, the condition is now treated using androgenic steroids that the patient has to take on a daily basis. These drugs are only available in countries that have access to world-class medical technology, such as the US and Europe. These include the bradykinin B2-receptor antagonist called Icatibant, which became available in Europe in 2008 and in the US in 2011. Another drug, Kallikrein inhibitor or Ecallantide, originated in the US and was approved by the US FDA in 2009. Now, however, fast-emerging medical tourism hubs in Southeast Asia give Asians easier access to these novel treatments.