PregnancyPreeclampsia in pregnancy: what it is, causes, symptoms, treatment and risks

Preeclampsia in pregnancy: what it is, causes, symptoms, treatment and risks

Preeclampsia is a dangerous disease that occurs during pregnancy, and untreated it can put the life of the mother and the baby at risk. Find out its symptoms, what causes it, its risks and how is the treatment.

The preeclampsia or toxemia is a disease that occurs only during pregnancy and precisely no cure until the time of delivery. It is very common for it to occur after the 20th week of gestation and in some cases it does not develop until the last trimester of pregnancy.

This disease affects a low percentage of pregnant women, although it is true that this percentage varies from one country to another. For example, in Spain the prevalence is around 2%.

The main causes of preeclampsia

The cause for which this disease occurs is still unknown, instead it could be caused by several factors such as:

  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • The genetic.
  • Vascular problems
  • The diet.
  • Kidney disease during pregnancy.

There are some risk factors that can predispose you to developing pre-eclampsia during pregnancy:

  • Be on bed rest, and lying on the left side.
  • Having high blood pressure.
  • Being diabetic or having a history of diabetes.
  • Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets or more).
  • Being the first pregnancy.
  • Be over 35 years of age.
  • History of kidney disease.

Before pre-eclampsia is diagnosed, it usually does not produce any symptoms except in the case of severe pre-eclampsia.

On the other hand, on some occasions it may happen that when we go to the gynecologist to have the revision corresponding to the month of gestation in which we are, we have higher blood pressure than what is considered normal in the state in which we are.

Once we are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, we must follow the gynecologist’s instructions as well as the controls, since pre-eclampsia can evolve to be very serious for both the mother and the baby.

The baby can cause a delay in growth, or premature delivery, in the case of the mother, preeclampsia can cause hemorrhage due to premature detachment of the placenta, kidney problems, cerebrovascular problems, even death in the most serious cases.

What are the symptoms of preeclampsia?

For preeclampsia to be diagnosed, blood pressures will be high, above 140/90 and also the presence of protein in the urine.

Other symptoms that are visible when preeclampsia begins are:

  • Sudden weight gain
  • Fluid retention.
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, hands, ankles, and feet.

How is it diagnosed?

The gynecologist through the physical examination and once verified the high blood pressure, weight gain more than normal in a short time, and the edema or swelling in the parts of the body mentioned above, will ask the patient for tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests consist of both blood and urine tests.

The results that are considered abnormal in these tests and that make us suspect that we are suffering from pre-eclampsia are:

  • Protein in urine.
  • Liver enzymes are higher than normal.
  • The platelet count is less than 100,000.

In addition to these tests, the gynecologist will order other tests to check blood clotting and also to check the health of the baby.

To check the health of the baby, the gynecologist will do ultrasound scans, cardiotocographies at rest and a biophysical profile.

With these tests the doctor will decide if it is urgent to remove the baby immediately, resorting to an emergency cesarean section.

There are cases in which in order for the pre-eclampsia not to get worse if the baby is already well developed enough, usually at 37 weeks of gestation or later, the doctor accelerates the delivery so that it does not cause any problems. Nor suffering to the baby, either by cesarean section or through an induced labor depending on the health status of both the mother and the child.

Treatment of preeclampsia

When it comes to mild pre-eclampsia and the baby is not yet developed enough to survive after delivery, the doctor prescribes home rest, in which the following advice will also be indicated:

  • Be on bed rest, and lying on the left side.
  • Dispense with the salt.
  • Attend the medical check-up.
  • In some cases, drugs are prescribed to lower blood pressure.
  • Low calorie balanced diet, no more than 1,500 calories a day.
  • Be well hydrated.

When preeclampsia is under control and everything is going well, the pregnancy may go to term up to the 40th week.

In the case of severe or severe pre – eclampsia, the doctor decides to hospitalize the mother to closely monitor both the mother’s health and the baby’s health.

Symptoms of severe preeclampsia

Symptoms that may appear during severe pre-eclampsia:

  • Little urination, decreased urination.
  • Difficulties when breathing.
  • Headache.
  • Pain in the right side of the abdomen that is located below the ribs.
  • Burning sensation behind the breastbone sometimes mistaken for heartburn.
  • Gallbladder pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurry vision.
  • Excessive sensitivity to light
  • Mental confusion.
  • The baby kicks more or moves a lot, more than is normal.

Severe pre-eclampsia can trigger eclampsia, seizures leading to the death of both the mother and the baby.

When you have already had pre-eclampsia, the risks of it recurring in a new pregnancy are very high.

Preeclampsia once delivery has taken place begins the healing process, both high blood pressure and urine protein and other associated symptoms are remitting until they disappear in about 5 or 6 weeks.

However, in other cases, blood pressure can remain high or worsen in the first days after delivery.

If you have suffered pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, you should be careful in a subsequent pregnancy since the chances of suffering another pre-eclampsia are quite high.

Preeclampsia cannot be prevented, but it helps a lot once the pregnancy diagnosis has been confirmed, from the beginning, going to prenatal medical check-ups, to check that the pregnancy is developing well.

Eat a healthy and balanced diet, foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, be well hydrated, drink between a liter and a half and two of water and walk at least 30 minutes a day in a moderate way as long as we do not have to rest due to pregnancy high-risk.

 

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