Preeclampsia symptoms

Preeclampsia is a dangerous health condition that some pregnant women develop during the end of their second trimester or at some time during the third trimester. Women can also develop this condition during the first six weeks after giving birth. This condition occurs in approximately 8% of all pregnancies. The cause of preeclampsia is not yet known. However, women who are pregnant for the first time are thought o be more at risk for it than women who have had a previous normal pregnancy. Also, women who are carrying more than one fetus and those who have had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy may be more at risk. Women who already have high blood pressure before becoming pregnant are more likely to develop preeclampsia as well. Preeclampsia is common in young girls who are under the age of 15 and women who are older than 35 and become pregnant. Women who have sickle cell anemia frequently develop preeclampsia during pregnancy as well.

Preeclampsia can occur suddenly. It has two major symptoms. These major symptoms are protein in the urine and high blood pressure. Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) is the leading cause of maternal death and illness in infants in every country around the world. Every year approximately 76,000 women die due to PIH associated with eclampsia. Medical doctors routinely screen their patients for symptoms of preeclampsia because this condition is so dangerous to the health of the mother and infant. Other symptoms they watch for are sudden weight gain, headaches, fluid retention and changes in vision. It should be noted that some women do not experience any preeclampsia symptoms so proper prenatal checkups are necessary to continuously screen for this condition. Medical doctors can track the weight gain of expectant mothers and take blood pressure readings at each office visit. A urine sample is routinely required to screen for the presence of protein as well.

The presence of high blood pressure is indicted if a reading of over 140/90 is documented twice during a time period of six hours. This is a major red flag for preeclampsia. Protein in the urine will be detected during a blood test if the small blood vessels in the kidneys have been damaged due to this condition. This is the second of the two major preeclampsia symptoms. The woman may also experience vomiting, persistent headaches and a racing pulse when she has preeclampsia. One other suspected symptom is a specific pain in the right shoulder, stomach or lower back. Pain may also be present in the upper right side of the abdominal region just under the ribs. This particular pain is referred to as Hyperrelexia. It may be indicative of preeclampsia in some expectant mothers. Women who experience severe abdominal pain, headaches and blurred vision should contact their doctor immediately or go the emergency hospital for treatment.

The changes in vision that may occur because of preeclampsia include sudden, but temporary, vision loss or an extreme sensitivity to light as well as blurred vision. Decreased urine output should be watched as it may be indicative of preeclampsia in some expectant mothers. A sudden weight gain of more than 2 pounds a week is also listed amongst preeclampsia symptoms.

Pregnant women commonly experience swelling of the hands and feet. Women who develop preeclampsia may also experience swelling or edema in their face. However, swelling is not a reliable sign since it is common to most all pregnant women.

If preeclampsia is left untreated the woman is at high risk for seizure, stroke, severe bleeding and placental abruption and death. Delivery of the fetus is the only cure for preeclampsia. Certain medications for high blood pressure may be taken during pregnancy to control it. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to increase the liver and platelet functioning to try to prolong the pregnancy until the fetus can be delivered safely. Anticonvulsive medications may also be used until delivery.

Last updated on Mar 1st, 2010 and filed under Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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