Guest Author - Julixa Newman
Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy. A multiples pregnancy raises the chances of having preeclampsia. It is usually detected during normal examinations and blood or urine tests. Although the exact cause of preeclampsia has not been determined, possible causes include blood vessel problems, your diet, autoimmune disease and your genes.
The following are the risk factors of preeclampsia:
* Multiple Pregnancy
* Being older than 35
* History of diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease
Although many women do not report having any symptoms before being diagnosed with preeclampsia, symptoms may include the following:
* Edema (swelling of the hands and face)
* Sudden weight gain over 1-2 days or more than 2 pounds a week
* Decreased urination
* Pain on the right side of your belly
* Vision changes. This may include temporary blindness, seeing flashes or spots, blurry vision and sensitivity to light
* Headache that will not go away
* Drastic swelling of the hands and feet
What kind of treatment can you expect for preeclampsia?
Unfortunately the only way to completely cure preeclampsia is to deliver your baby. If the baby is more than 37 weeks doctors will usually schedule a c-section. If your baby is not that far along the doctor will probably recommend the following:
* Decreasing your salt intake
* Drinking more water during the day
* Bed rest (lying on your left side most of the time)
* Frequent doctor's check ups
* Medicines to lower blood pressure (not common)
It is very important that you have regular check ups with your doctor once it is discovered that you have preeclampsia. If there are signs of severe preeclampsia the baby must be delivered. The following are signs of severe preeclampsia:
* No growth of one or all babies
* Severe pain in your abdominal area
* Fluid in the mother's lungs
* High volume of protein in the mother's urine
* Abnormal liver function tests
* Low platelet count
* The bottom number of your blood pressure is over 110mmHg consistently over a 24 hour period of time
There is no known way to prevent preeclampsia. That's why it is very important to start prenatal care as early as possible and to continue doing so throughout your pregnancy.
If you think that you might be suffering from preeclampsia please contact your doctor immediately.
1. Sibai BM. Hypertension. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics - Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2007:chap 33.
2. Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al . Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. In: Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al, eds. Williams Obstetrics. 22nd ed. New York, NY; McGraw-Hill; 2005:chap 34.