Preeclampsia, also known as toxemia, is generally diagnosed in the 20th week of pregnancy if the pregnant woman has a high protein content in her urine and is also suffering from high blood pressure. Preeclampsia is also accompanied by gestational hypertension and stress most of the time. It normally affects around 2-6% of the women who have conceived for the first time.
If you have a very severe condition of preeclampsia, it will appear quite earlier in your pregnancy and will impose threats to you and your baby’s health. Generally, women who suffer from preeclampsia experience mild symptoms close to their delivery date but do not face any complications.
On the other hand, if you have a serious case of preeclampsia, it can adversely affect your organs and can even result in life-threatening issues, which is why you might have to deliver your baby early in this case.
What Are the Symptoms of Preeclampsia?
It is a very serious condition that generally attacks around 5% of all pregnant women. It normally begins after the 20th week of pregnancy. The main symptoms are:
- an increase in the woman’s blood pressure
- changes in the vision
- continuous headaches
- abnormalities in the kidney or liver
- a high protein content in the urine
Generally, preeclampsia is noticed when a pregnant woman reaches her 37th week of pregnancy, but it can also develop during the second part of your pregnancy, including the time of your labor, or in some cases, even after the delivery.
Some women do experience signs of preeclampsia before reaching the 20th week of pregnancy, but this happens rarely, mainly during a molar pregnancy and needs to be treated immediately. During each of your prenatal visits, your doctor will examine you thoroughly and look for the onset of preeclampsia by taking samples of your urine and checking your blood pressure.
Preeclampsia can be chronic or mild. If you have never suffered from a high blood pressure, then the signs of preeclampsia during your pregnancy can include having an excess amount of protein in your urine, harsh headaches, high blood pressure of around 140/90 mm of mercury, dizziness, nausea, sudden gain in weight, less urine, changes in vision, including loss of vision or blurry vision, pain in upper abdomen, and swelling of hands and face, which is also known as edema. Edema is often not considered a dependable symptom of preeclampsia as it often occurs in normal pregnancies as well.
Here is a video to tell you what preeclampsia is:
What Causes Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia was also known as toxemia previously as it was believed to be caused by a toxin existing in the blood of a pregnant woman. This theory has now been discarded, but researchers have to identify the exact cause of preeclampsia yet. However, there are some possible causes of this condition. For instance, if your blood vessels have been damaged, or your uterus isn’t receiving adequate amount of blood, or you have a weak immune system, or if you have a very poor diet, you can get preeclampsia.
How to Treat Preeclampsia
If your doctor has diagnosed you with preeclampsia, then you might need to be admitted to a hospital so your condition can be examined. You will be given a treatment according to the condition of your prreclampsia.
Your blood pressure will be checked approximately four times every day and samples of your blood will be taken as well. Then, according to your test results, your doctor will decide whether you need more check-ups, or you can go home.
Your blood pressure will be checked around 4 times a day and you will be given medicines to control it. You will also undergo ultrasound scans that will include Doppler scans. This will help in examining the amount of blood reaching your baby from your placenta. If your baby is in a normal condition, and you become better in the next couple of days, you may be allowed to go home. However, if you haven’t delivered your baby between your 39-40 weeks pregnancy, the doctor might have to induce your delivery.
You will have to stay in the hospital till the time you deliver your baby, and maybe even after that. You will be checked thoroughly and your blood pressure will be monitored frequently, and samples of your urine and blood will also be taken on a regularl basis. The doctors will also evaluate your baby’s growth and well being. The hospital staff will do their best to prevent your condition from worsening. They will help in controlling your fluid levels and you may be given magnesium sulfate intravenously. It will lower your risk of developing further symptoms of preeclampsia. At times, severe preeclampsia can cause fits in the patient and magnesium sulfate helps in mitigating this problem.
If your blood pressure cannot be managed and your baby is at risk, your doctor may induce an early delivery. However, she needs to monitor your condition closely and then advise an early labor.
If you have to undergo an early labor that needs to be induced, you shouldn’t worry until your baby’s condition is abnormal. If your baby has a healthy weight, he is likely to be fine after birth.
How to Prevent Preeclampsia
Until now, no proper method has been discovered that can help in preventing preeclampsia, but there is research being conducted on this subject. Studies have been carried out to check whether or not taking extra calcium, using extra vitamin supplements, or controlling your intake of salt can help in preventing the onset of preeclampsia.
If you are at a risk of getting this condition, your health care practitioner may recommend you to take a low dose of aspirin. However, you should never take it on your own, unless advised by your doctor.
As for now, you should take care of yourself, eat healthy and visit your doctor regularly. You need to be aware of the symptoms of preeclampsia, so you can get proper treatment accordingly.
Want to know more about preeclampsia? Check out the video below: