Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of excess protein in urine in women during the second half of pregnancy. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it may lead to a very serious condition called eclampsia. Eclampsia is risky to the baby and the mother, and may even cause death. Complete cure for preeclampsia is not yet known. But symptoms of preeclampsia can be controlled to a large extent. Early diagnosis and appropriate prenatal care is very important for successful management of the condition.
This condition often starts abruptly after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The most common symptoms of this condition are hypertension, the presence of protein in urine, and swelling in feet and legs.
Some of the other symptoms of this condition include:
- Sudden weight gain in the order of more than a kilogram in a week
- Abdominal pain
- Severe headache
- Excessive nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision and sensitivity to light
This condition is often accompanied by edema of the face and hands. As this symptom may be seen even in the case of normal pregnancy, it is not often considered a reliable sign of the condition.
Some of the warning signs that warrant attention include:
- Sudden development of swelling on the face, hands, and eyes
- High blood pressure
- Sudden weight gain
- Decrease in urine production
- Flashing lights in vision
Preeclampsia may occur without any of the major symptoms mentioned above in some people. So, it is important to follow all prenatal checkups regularly.
The best possible cure for preeclampsia is delivery. Doctor may decide the delivery based on the severity of preeclampsia and how far the baby has come along. Generally, if the growth of the baby is adequate, doctor may suggest cesarean section or induce labor after 37 weeks or later.
For mild preeclampsia, some of the common treatments suggested include:
- Bed rest
- Continuous monitoring of fetal heart rate
- Medications to lower blood pressure
- Blood and urine tests
- Steroid injections to help in the development of fetal lungs
- Magnesium injections to prevent seizures related to eclampsia
- Monitoring fluid intake
- Antihypertensive drugs to prevent sudden and severe increase in blood pressure