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What Is Preeclampsia During Pregnancy?

calendarNovember 18, 2016
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Symptoms of preeclampsia

Finding out that she is with child is one of the most exciting events in a woman’s life. Every couple is elated about having a child. And as long as the mother eats healthy foods, does proper exercise, and has regular prenatal check-ups, she will hopefully be able to carry her child to full term and deliver the baby without any complications.

Staying healthy is important because the baby’s well-being in her womb depends very much on her health. Vices that can adversely affect the baby should be avoided. These include excessive consumption of junk foods, soda, liquor, fatty foods, and smoking, as well as using illegal drugs. During pregnancy, the mother is usually warned against taking medication without a doctor’s prescription. However, there are instances when problems arise while a woman is pregnant.

One of these is the onset of pre-eclampsia, or what was formerly known as toxemia. This condition has caused difficult pregnancies that result in delivering the child before its due date, death of the baby while still in the womb, and serious, potentially fatal, illness of the mother. Seemingly, information regarding pre-eclampsia should be disseminated to women of child-bearing age so that they can take extra precautions to try to avoid this condition.

What is pre-eclampsia? A pre-eclampsia definition states that this is a condition that women who are expecting a child can develop, and it is characterized by high blood pressure levels in women who have never experienced such complications before. Also, teenagers who are pregnant are more prone to have this condition, along with mothers-to-be for twins. It is frequently in pregnant women who are aged 40 and above. This condition may or may not have visible indications, so it is difficult to detect and diagnose. Even women who are healthy and who have shown no signs have died from it.

When Does Pre-eclampsia Start?

No one can tell time when pre-eclampsia sets in, because it may appear at any time during the pregnancy until the time the woman gives birth to her child. After delivering her child the mother is not yet safe because it is possible to feel the symptoms up to six weeks postpartum. After this time frame, the mother will be safe. Women with preeclampsia are advised not to try having another child because of the high risk.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Knowing the different signs of pre-eclampsia can be very useful because this will allow the patient or her family to know that she is facing this danger. Necessary precautions will be taken and it is important for the pregnant woman to have regular prenatal checkups.

Symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure levels. High blood pressure happens when the veins become narrow so that blood can hardly pass through. The narrower the passage, the higher the pressure. Too much pressure can cause the veins to swell, including those in the brain. When the swelling affects the functioning of the brain, the pregnant woman might have convulsions or seizures. In the advanced stages of eclampsia, the pregnancy woman can become comatose and may eventually die.
  • Increased bodily fluid due to inability of the pregnant woman to urinate which causes a fast increase in weight. This results in significant rapid weight gain in as little as two days. As a result, the face, eyes, and hands are bloated. Swelling of the feet and ankles is considered normal during pregnancy and shouldn't cause much alarm, but bloat of other parts of the body should be given attention right away.
  • Stomach pain, which is usually felt on the upper right side, is another sign that a pregnant woman is suffering from pre-eclampsia. This is the reason why pregnant women with preeclampsia are advised to lie on their left side.
  • Severe headache, which could be mistaken for a migraine, is another sign of preeclampsia. The headache can be caused by high blood pressure.
  • Less urine or absence of urine output. This means that the amount of urine is less than normal. In more serious cases, the pregnant woman might not be able to urinate at all and the fluid accumulates, resulting in bloating.
  • Vertigo or dizziness. This is characterized by a feeling of lightheadedness, as if the person is floating, seeing lights that are flashing, and seeing blurred objects.
  • Feeling nausea and serious vomiting. The pregnant woman has a queasy stomach that leads to throwing up.

Can You Have Pre-eclampsia without High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension is one sign of preeclampsia and it happens first before it is discovered that a pregnant woman is suffering from preeclampsia. Without high blood pressure, a doctor will most likely conclude that the patient is in good condition and will not list her as having eclampsia.

Can High Blood Pressure Cause Nausea?

When blood pressure shoots up, a person may feel dizzy and it is this dizziness that causes the person to feel disoriented and nauseous. Some have even stated that they feel like the floor is moving under them, causing them to feel like vomiting. Once symptoms are seen, it is best to consult a doctor right away.

Women who experience pre-eclampsia symptoms are strongly advised to consult with their doctors or physicians. Some pregnant women do not experience any signs of preeclampsia and this is why doctors stress the importance of having  regular prenatal check-ups. When the precursors of eclampsia left unnoticed, eclampsia can have more serious effects on the baby and the mother.

What are the Causes of Pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia happens to women who are pregnant for the first time. There is no identified cause of this condition, although it has been observed that pregnant women with high level of body fat or who are considered obese are the usual victims. Another culprit is poor nutrition. This conclusion is based on the fact of the majority of the victims live in third world countries and suffered from malnutrition.

This observation may be valid because proper nutrition affects the health status of pregnant woman and the child growing in her womb. It has also been discovered that women whose mothers have experienced preeclampsia are also known to suffer from the same problem during their pregnancy. This points to the fact that genetics has a role in the susceptibility of a pregnant woman to pre-eclampsia. Carrying twins can also cause the placenta to malfunction. Women diagnosed with diabetes, kidney problems, and arthritis will more likely suffer from this condition.

Can Pre-eclampsia Be Treated?

Because of the rising incidence of preeclampsia and its fatality, research studies have been conducted to find a cure, aside from delivering the baby. This is because once pregnancy is terminated, the condition simply disappears. Doctors are able to identify some remedies that will minimize its incidence.

Signs of high blood pressure during pregnancy

A woman who is carrying a child and has been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia is given the following preeclampsia treatment:

  • Complete bed rest. This may be done at home or in a hospital. When resting, it is best to lie on your left side. Bed rest has been an old remedy for difficult pregnancies. There is no proof that it really helps, but it has been known to reduce stress, which benefits both the mother and the baby in her womb.
  • Having regular blood and urine tests. A pregnant woman with high blood pressure may not exhibit visible symptoms. The same is true for high levels of protein in the urine. These conditions can only be discovered by undergoing a urine test and by having blood pressure checked regularly. Once the blood pressure is found to be high, the doctor will prescribe medicine to lower it.
  • Regular monitoring of the heart rate. The doctor usually does this by checking the pulse rate. Having regular ultrasound will be of great help as well.
  • Pregnant women admitted to the hospitals are injected with steroid, hydralazine, and magnesium, which are all needed to prevent seizures and hypertension.

Pre-eclampsia presents lots of hazards. One ill effect is that it cuts off the supply of blood to the placenta. As a result, the baby is born with an abnormally small body size. Likewise, the baby may be born prematurely. The baby might have epilepsy, learning disabilities, defective vision, and cerebral palsy. Women with preeclampsia can die from a stroke or suffer from heart failure, water in the lungs, blindness, seizures, and bleeding after giving birth. Preeclampsia can develop into eclampsia, but

Pre-eclampsia can develop into eclampsia, but what is eclampsia? Eclampsia defined as a serious complication of pre-eclampsia and is characterized by convulsions and seizures. It is considered rare because it only affects five women in a thousand. However, an attack can cause the death of mother and child. What is worse, even women who have never experienced pre-eclampsia can still develop eclampsia. No specific cause of preeclampsia has been identified, although medical practitioners are sure that it is the cause of eclampsia. 

Their conclusion is based on the fact that spikes in blood pressure while pregnant can cause seizures and convulsions and can result in the mother becoming comatose. This is because the brain can swell due to damaged arteries, resulting in convulsions and seizures. Protein in the urine, which is a sign of kidney malfunction, is another cause of eclampsia. The kidneys cleanse the blood, filtering out nutrients to distribute them to the body. When malfunctions, they can no longer filter out the waste anymore, and instead of protein going into the body, it leaks into the urine.

What are the Symptoms of Eclampsia?

Recognizing the symptoms of a disease is one way to make dealing with it easier. There are several symptoms pregnant women should watch out for:

  • Seizures. These happen when high blood pressure shoots up. Veins can be damaged and become swollen. The swelling can impede the brain, whereby the pregnant woman experiences convulsions and seizures. The damage to the brain can cause the woman to become comatose.
  • Fainting. Because oxygen can no longer reach the brain, the pregnant woman may faint or become unconscious. If the damage is severe, the woman becomes brain-dead or comatose.
  • Agitation. The pregnant woman becomes restless and is easily irritated. This condition is caused by kidney malfunction, which is one cause of eclampsia.
  • Sore muscles and migraine. Headaches and aching muscles are symptoms of eclampsia.

Risk Factors of Eclampsia

Just like pre-eclampsia, there are several risk factors when it comes to eclampsia. These include being pregnant with twins, getting pregnant before the age of eighteen or over forty, getting pregnant for the first time, having suffered from insufficient nutrition, and being sick with diabetes and other ailments that affect the veins. Women who are at high risk are advised to have regular check-ups once they discover that they are pregnant. Pregnant woman undergo the tests recommended by the doctor to ensure their safety.

Preeclampsia vs. Eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are almost the same thhing. The only difference is the severity of the condition. Pre-eclampsia is mild, while eclampsia is severe and can be fatal. Both are indicated by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Seizures and brain damage are usually the result of eclampsia. 

Tests required for pregnant women who show signs of eclampsia are urine and blood tests to check factors that affect clotting of the blood, liver function, platelet count, uric acid, creatinine, and for the presence of protein in the urine. By perfoming these tests, your doctor will be able to recommend remedies that will alleviate your condition. Just like pre-eclampsia, the best treatment for eclampsia is giving birth.

This means that mothers should be able to lead normal lives after resolving the problem. However, eclampsia can set in within the first sixteen days after giving birth. Because of this, the doctor might opt for premature delivery to save the mother’s life. After the delivery, extra care should be taken by the mother for a few days to make sure that she is really in a stable and safe condition.

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