PregnancyWhat is preeclampsia, symptoms, causes and how to detect it?

What is preeclampsia, symptoms, causes and how to detect it?

Preeclampsia can be a dangerous condition in pregnancy. We will discover its symptoms, its causes and how to detect it in time so that the baby’s health is not in danger.

If you have heard of preeclampsia, you may know that it is a disorder that occurs during pregnancy. This generates a set of symptoms that can affect both the mother and the baby. Depending on the severity of each case, there are various treatments to address this problem.

However, less is known about the causes of this disease. For this reason, if you are pregnant, it is good that you learn about the main risk factors that cause pre-eclampsia and what are the signs that you should be aware of. In this article we will review with you what preeclampsia is and why it occurs.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs during pregnancy, affecting about 15% of pregnant women. It consists of a rise in tension caused by pregnancy. It is a potentially dangerous disorder for both the expectant mother and the baby, and can cause damage to the mother’s liver, kidneys and clotting system.

It generally occurs from the fifth month of pregnancy (and especially in the last weeks), although in a smaller number of cases it can appear earlier. Preeclampsia may also develop during delivery or in the hours after giving birth.

In fact, it tends to develop early in pregnancy, but doesn’t really become apparent until around the third trimester of gestation.

Doctors distinguish between severe cases and mild cases of pre-eclampsia. This is according to the severity of the symptoms that occur and therefore the treatment and action plan in each case is different. It is worth clarifying that most cases are mild pre-eclampsia.

Why does preeclampsia occur?

The causes of preeclampsia have not yet been determined exactly, it is believed that it is due to problems that occur in the blood flow that reaches the placenta if it does not fit properly in the walls of the uterus, affecting the functioning of the arteries that carry blood to the placenta.

However, although the causes are not known for sure, several risk factors for pre-eclampsia have been detected. That is, it is known that certain groups of women are more likely to develop the disease. For this reason, it is important to be careful if you belong to any of these groups and to inform your doctor of any history that may be risk factors.

One of the risk factors that can predispose the development of preeclampsia is the history.  If you had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy or if a close relative has had it (mother, sister, aunt or grandmother). Age also plays a role, as the women with the most pre-eclampsia are those under 20 or over 40 years of age.

If you suffer from certain diseases, it can also increase the probability of having pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Among them diabetes, chronic high blood pressure, clotting problems, kidney problems, or diseases of the immune system such as lupus.

Future mothers with multiple pregnancies (more than one baby) are also at higher risk. The same happens in obese women (with a body mass index greater than 30)

How to detect preeclampsia?

It is good as we said before to be attentive to certain common symptoms. However, it must be taken into account that these can sometimes go unnoticed as normal things of pregnancy. For this reason, the most important thing is to periodically go to check-ups since your doctor must check your weight, blood pressure, and be attentive to any other signs.

The most common symptom of preeclampsia is high blood pressure or hypertension.  Another feature of this disorder is the presence of protein in the urine (this is detected with a simple urinalysis) or malfunction of the liver and kidney. An accelerated weight gain in a short time or a lot of swelling in the feet and hands could also be signs of pre-eclampsia.

On the other hand, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, it tends to cause other symptoms such as acute pain that is located under the ribs (especially on the right side), irritability, vertigo, vomiting and blurred vision.

In more serious cases there are symptoms such as poor growth of the baby, low amount of amniotic fluid, premature placental abruption. They may also have a very bad headache that does not go away, visual disturbances (blurred or dotted vision, sensitivity to light or temporary loss of vision), mental confusion, and very severe pain in the upper abdomen.


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