Preeclampsia Signs And Symptoms: Causes And Treatment Options

Preeclampsia is one of the serious problems during pregnancy. Preeclampsia develops in later stage of pregnancy, mostly in later part of second and early stage of third trimester. The condition is diagnosed clinically by development of hypertension, loss of protein in urine (proteinuria) and swelling in legs, face and hands. Preeclampsia can cause restriction of blood flow to uterus.

At least one in every 20 pregnant women is known to suffer from preeclampsia. The risk of preeclampsia increases when a woman is having diabetes or carries twins. Also first time pregnant woman is at a greater risk of developing preeclampsia than woman who has previously delivered.

Untreated cases can further deteriorate and can develop eclampsia which manifests itself as convulsion, internal bleeding, blood clotting, coma and death. Early detection and medication are two important treatment measures to control complications of preeclampsia.

What Causes Preeclampsia?

The exact cause of preeclampsia is not clearly understood, but it is presumed to be some problem with placenta. Placenta attaches the baby with the uterus and through it blood and nutrients are passed on from mother to baby. The blood vessels of placenta are affected and this causes restriction of oxygenated blood supply to the baby.

Preeclampsia is frequently observed in primies (woman pregnant for first time); however any pregnant women can suffer from preeclampsia. Factors which increase the risk are:

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Woman being pregnant for the first time.
  • Pregnant with twins or triplets.
  • History of preeclampsia in family.
  • Diabetes, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic kidney disease.
  • History of high blood pressure before pregnancy.

Signs And Symptoms Of Preeclampsia

Many times there are no symptoms experienced by the pregnant woman. They remain silent. Often preeclampsia is diagnosed when pregnant woman is examined clinically by her doctor for antenatal checkup. Thus preeclampsia can endanger the life of woman and fetus inside her womb. It is considered to be a silent killer. Below are given the important signs and symptoms of preeclampsia:

  • Hypertension: Pregnant woman whose blood pressure is between 140/90 and 150/99 is considered to be mild high blood pressure. Blood pressure between 150/100 and 159/110 mm of hg. Blood pressure above 160/110 I considered severely high in preeclampsia.
  • Protienuria: There is excess passage of protein in urine. There is no specific symptom; it is only detected with urine test.
  • Edema: Swelling of limbs and face. There may be pitting on pressure. Swelling is caused due to water retention.
  • Sudden increase in weight: Weight gain more than 1 kg per week may indicate development of preeclampsia.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Usually both this symptoms disappear after first trimester. If the symptoms suddenly come back in third or second trimester, you should suspect preeclampsia as the underlying cause. Consult with your doctor.
  • Headache: It is similar to migraine like headache. Headache is constant and may be accompanied with vomiting and nausea.
  • Visual problems: Due to edema and hypertension she may experience blurred vision, flash lights etc.

Treatment Options For Preeclampsia

If preeclampsia is diagnosed the goal of treatment is safety of mother and delivery of live infant who will not require prolonged intensive care. Following steps should be taken:

  • Absolute rest in bed soon if you find there is mild rise of blood pressure. Doctors consider outpatient management if hypertension is mild and the fetus is normal.
  • Sleep sideways and avoid sleeping on back as this may cause more pain and pressure on kidney.
  • She is advised to restrict salt intake in her food.
  • If blood pressure becomes abnormally high, patient may need urgent hospitalization.
  • When Preeclampsia is close to term and the fetus is mature, doctors may advise to delivery of baby even if it slightly earlier than expected date of delivery. Labor is induced or cesarean section is performed as early as possible when the blood pressure rises extremely high.

Early diagnosis, close medical supervision and timely delivery are the cardinal requirements for managing preeclampsia. Delivery is the ultimate cure.

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