Preeclampsia, which was formerly known as Toxemia is a pregnancy condition where a pregnant woman’s blood pressure rises, and they also have swelling in their legs, hand, and feet, plus protein in their urine.
This can range from a mild condition to severe, and it happens mostly in the late stages of pregnancy. It can also come early in pregnancy as well. Preeclampsia leads to eclampsia which is actually a more serious condition with health risks for both the baby and the mother. In some rare cases, it may cause death.
Women suffering from Preeclampsia can have seizures. The only cure for this is to give birth, although, even after delivery, you may still have some symptoms of preeclampsia, which can last from 1 to 6 weeks and even more.
Signs and Symptoms of this Disease
You can easily protect yourself from this disease by learning as much as you can concerning the condition. Here are some common signs that you are suffering from preeclampsia.
- Swelling on your feet, hands, and fingers.
- Protein in the urine.
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain – this can be seen in 1 or 2 days, due to the large increase of the bodily fluids.
- Belly pain, which is mostly in the upper right side of your belly.
- Severe headaches.
- Changes in your reflexes.
- Peeing a lot less, or not at all.
- Severe nausea and vomiting.
- Changes in your vision.
In some cases, there are no symptoms and therefore, it’s always important to see a doctor for regular blood pressure checks as well as urine tests.
What Causes Preeclampsia?
Most of the experts say that this happens mostly when a woman’s placenta does not work as it should, and they really do not know exactly why this happens. Others think that having poor nutrition or high body fat content can contribute to the condition.
A lack of blood flow to the uterus is another reason, plus genes as well.
What Happens if it Goes Undiagnosed in Pregnancy?
If it is undiagnosed, preeclampsia leads to a more serious condition called eclampsia. This leads to seizures and HELLP Syndrome that affects the red blood cells breakdown, how your blood clots, and the liver functions in the pregnant woman.
HELLP syndrome stands for the following,
- Hemolysis – this is when the red blood cells that are responsible for carrying oxygen to your body get broken down.
- Elevated Liver enzymes – this refers to high levels of chemicals in your blood, which leads to liver problems.
- Low Platelet counts – this is where you do not have enough platelets such that your blood does not clot as it should.
It can also lead to the following complications,
- Fluid build-up in your chest.
- Bleeding from the liver.
- Reversible blindness.
- Heart failure.
- Bleeding after giving birth.
Who Is at Risk?
While this is a common pregnancy condition, the most at-risk people of developing it are
- Pregnant teens and women over 40 years.
- African American women.
- First-time pregnancies.
- Women having babies that are less than 2 years apart.
- Women pregnant with a new partner who is not the father of your other children.
- Women having high blood pressure conditions before pregnancy.
- Women having a history of preeclampsia
- Women who are obese.
- Women carrying more than one child at a time.
- Women using in-vitro fertilization
- Women having a history of asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and kidney disease.
Other Complications of this Condition
Preeclampsia can also keep your placenta from getting the right amount of blood, which can then cause your baby to be born very small. This is called fetal growth restrictions.
It is actually one of the most common causes of premature births, and it can also cause learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and epilepsy in the baby.
In some cases, Preeclampsia can cause the placenta to suddenly separate from the uterus which is called “Placenta abruption.” This can lead to stillbirth. Be sure to keep getting checked so you can ensure that you do not suffer from this condition and that it doesn’t go undiagnosed. All the best with your pregnancy.