PRE-ECLAMPSIA: Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment


What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a condition that some pregnant women may acquire during the course of their pregnancy. Preeclampsia was first known as toxemia.

Women with pre-eclampsia have high blood pressure, fluid retention (oedema) and protein in the urine (proteinuria). If it’s not treated, it can lead to serious complications and in one to two per cent of cases can be life threatening. In the unborn baby, pre-eclampsia can cause growth problems.

Women who experience preeclampsia may be at risk of developing eclampsia, a potentially dangerous medical condition for mother and baby. Symptoms of Preeclampsia usually appear during the second to the third trimester of pregnanacy. To this day, there is no known cure for this condition, but women who plan to get pregnant or are already pregnant will be able to somewhat protect themselves by using some simple healthy methods.


What are the causes of Preeclampsia?

The exact reasoning why some women develop this medical condition is not fully understood. It seems that, genetics play a role, since women whose family has a history of preeclampsia are more susceptible to suffering themselves. In addition to genetics, poor nutrition, insufficient blood flow to the uterus and high body fat can also cause the development of this problem.


What are the Risk Groups For Preeclampsia?

There are pregnant women who may be more at risk of developing preeclampsia. It is more likely to develop with high risk pregnancies including teenage pregnancy, pregnant women beyond 40 years of age, family history of preeclampsia, multiple pregnancy (carrying twins or more), history of obesity, history of medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, and kidney diseases.



What are The Symptoms Of Preeclampsia?

It is important that women understand the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. The key to this condition is early detection. Getting assessment and help is important as soon as the ‘mother to be’ suspects she may have preeclampsia. Early signs include severe headaches, abdominal pain, dizziness, reduced out of urine, excessive vomiting and nausea, changes in reflexes, and a noticeable rapid weight gain due to water retention.

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to call your doctor right away when the ‘mum to be’ notices changes such as high blood pressure (greater than 140/90), sudden excessive swelling in the hands, face, and feet, sudden weight gain due to water retention in as little as 1 to 2 days, blurry vision, and abdominal pain in the upper right side.


How Does Preeclampsia Affect Pregnancy?

Preeclampsia can affect pregnancy in different ways. It prevents sufficient blood flow to the fetus, leading to poor fetal health and development. Preeclampsia is also one of the major causes of women giving birth prematurely.

There are also some severe complications due to preeclampsia. This includes seizure, stroke, water in the lungs, reversible blindness, liver bleeding, heart failure, and bleeding after giving birth. Preeclampsia can also cause the placenta separating from the uterus causing fetal death (stillborn).


What is the Treatment For Preeclampsia And Eclampsia

Since there is no known cure for these medical conditions, the only way to ensure the mother-and-child safety is to deliver the baby. Your doctor will evaluate the pregnancy, how far the on the mother is, and how healthy the baby is. Babies closer to their terms will obviously have a greater chance of a healthier delivery. In other cases, women diagnosed with mild preeclampsia will be under the doctor’s careful observation. Bed rest, blood tests, urine tests, medications and better nutrition will frequently be prescribed and recommended for the mum to be.


*** The information contained here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your doctor with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.


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