Preeclampsia Symptoms

preeclampsia symptoms

preeclampsia symptoms

Preeclampsia symptoms, also referred to toxemia, occur any time after pregnancy week 20 and they are considered a reason of concern as complications resulting from toxemia symptoms are responsible for 20% of all deaths occurring in expecting moms.

What are Preeclampsia Symptoms?

The main symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure and the presence of proteins in urine. Women who are affected by preeclampsia also accuse frequent headaches and fatigue, blurred vision, swelling of the face, arms and legs and a slightly higher weigh gain during pregnancy compared to other expecting moms.

In many cases, preeclampsia is asymptomatic in the beginning, so this condition can pass undiagnosed for a few weeks due to the absence of specific manifestations. However, when the pregnancy preeclampsia symptoms start manifesting, they are often very intense and frequent, creating discomfort and anxious thoughts.

The presence of proteins in urine is caused by an impaired renal function, bodily fluids being improperly or inefficiently filtered by kidneys. Then, the expecting mom gains weight very fast, putting on more than 2 pounds per week in certain cases. The nervous system is affected and this results in impaired vision, the pregnant women accusing vision problems, seeing spots and experiencing even occasionally blindness.

Preeclampsia Symptoms – What Causes Them?

What causes preeclampsia in pregnancy is not known precisely. Yet it is believed a dysfunction of blood cells is responsible for preeclampsia in pregnancy. Also, a series of risk factors have been identified, their presence being associated with an increased risk of developing preeclampsia symptoms:

  • Getting pregnant after the age of 35
  • Having multiple pregnancies
  • Having a personal or family history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure before getting pregnant
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being affected by diabetes or developing gestational diabetes
  • Having kidney disease or other conditions that affect the integrity and functioning of connective tissues

What You Need to Know about Preeclampsia Symptoms

Preeclampsia affects between 5% and 14% of all pregnancies, most of the times appearing in first time moms. Although uncommon, it can also appear postpartum, risks for the mother being in this case slightly lower.

Less than 1% of all women experiencing this condition develop convulsions and eclampsia, a rare but dangerous health issue associated with seizure and caused by the irritation of the cerebral membranes. This condition is of high risk for both the mother and the baby therefore it requires immediate care.

Another serious complication of preeclampsia is the HELLP syndrome, which manifests through liver and blood-clotting impairments. Kidney and liver failure, cerebral hemorrhage, accumulation of fluids in the lungs – condition called pulmonary edema – and blindness are other undesirable health effects that preeclampsia can trigger.

Preeclampsia Symptoms – What Can You do About Them

Unfortunately, preeclampsia can’t be prevented as it’s not caused by external factors. Thus, in case you noticed the previously mentioned symptoms of preeclampsia in pregnancy, all you can do for protecting yourself and your baby is contact your physician immediately.

Most women recover properly from this condition, only severe cases leading to serious complications. Generally, blood pressure returns to normal within few weeks after delivery and all the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure in pregnancy vanishes. Still, you will need to get regular checkups and to follow the treatment your physician prescribed as these are the best ways to prevent future outbreaks.

For more information on preeclampsia symptoms, be sure to take your time and read our interesting article on Pregnancy headaches, Morning sickness and common pregnancy symptoms

Last reviewed on 25/01/2013

Image credit:Torsten Mangner (used under creative commons license)

References

  • NHS – The Pregnancy Book
  • Pregnancy and birth sourcebook : basic consumer health information about pregnancy and fetal development … / edited by Amy L. Sutton. — 3rd ed. (Omnigraphics, Inc.)
  • The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth (World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.)
  • Prescribing in Pregnancy (Fourth edition) Edited by Peter Rubin and Margaret Ramsay (Blackwell Publishing)
  • Dewhurst’s Textbook Of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (Seventh Edition)Edited By D. Keith Edmonds Ramsay (Blackwell Publishing)
  • Textbook of Diabetes and Pregnancy (Second Edition) Edited by Moshe Hod MD / Lois Jovanovic MD / Gian Carlo Di Renzo MD PhD / Alberto de Leiva MD PhD / Oded Langer MD PhD  (Informa UK Ltd)
  • Management of High-Risk Pregnancy An Evidence-Based Approach (Fifth Edition) Edited By John T. Queenan / Catherine Y. Spong / Charles J. Lockwood (Blackwell Publishing)
  • WHO-2000-Managing Complications in Pregnancy Childbirth A Guide for Midwives Doctors
  • Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology Edited By T. Murphy Goodwin MD / Martin N. Montoro MD /  Laila I. Muderspach MD /  Richard J. Paulson MD /  Subir Roy MD (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • WHO  – Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth: A guide for midwives and doctors
  • Mood and Anxiety Disorders During Pregnancy and Postpartum Edited By Lee S. Cohen, M.D./ Ruta M. Nonacs, M.D., Ph.D.  (American Psychiatric Publishing)
  • Maternal-Fetal Nutrition during Pregnancy and Lactation  Editors  Michael E. Symonds and Margaret M. Ramsay (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS)
  • Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies (fifth edition)  Steven G. Gabbe, MD /  Jennifer R. Niebyl, MD /  Joe Leigh Simpson, MD (MOSBY)

Web References

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