What is Eclampsia?
Eclampsia is a pregnancy condition marked by high blood pressure (hypertension) and symptoms of organ damage, most notably to the liver and kidneys. It usually appears after the 20th week of pregnancy, however it can appear before or even afterwards. Preeclampsia affects around 5-8% of pregnancies globally and is a primary cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and death.
The specific cause of preeclampsia is unknown, although it is thought to involve issues with the placenta, which supports the growing fetus. It is suspected that aberrant blood vessel formation in the placenta and immune system responses have a role. Being a first-time mother, having a history of high blood pressure, being younger than 20 or older than 40, having multiple pregnancies (such as twins or triplets), and having certain medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or autoimmune disorders are all risk factors for developing preeclampsia.
High blood pressure (measured at or above 140/90 mmHg), proteinuria (excess protein in urine), swelling (edema), sudden weight gain, severe headaches, changes in vision (blurred vision, light sensitivity, or temporary loss of vision), abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting are common signs and symptoms of preeclampsia.
If neglected, preeclampsia can proceed to eclampsia, a more severe illness characterized by seizures or convulsions. Eclampsia is a medical emergency that must be treated right away.
What are some warning signs of pre-eclampsia in pregnant woman?
- High Blood Pressure: Preeclampsia is characterized by elevated blood pressure. A blood pressure result of 140/90 mmHg or above on at least two different times at least four hours apart is deemed serious.
- Proteinuria: Excess protein in the urine is referred to as proteinuria. A urine test is frequently used to check it. A high protein content in the urine may indicate preeclampsia.
- Swelling (Edema): Swelling is a typical sign of preeclampsia, especially in the hands, face, feet, and legs. While some swelling is typical during pregnancy, unexpected or excessive swelling should be reported to your doctor.
- Rapid Weight increase: Preeclampsia is accompanied with unexplained or abrupt weight increase, generally greater than two pounds per week. It might be accompanied by swelling and should be discussed with a doctor.
- Severe Headaches: Preeclampsia can be identified by persistent, strong headaches that are not eased by over-the-counter pain relievers. Headaches that are accompanied by visual abnormalities, such as blurred vision or seeing flashing lights, should be treated as soon as possible.
- Changes in Vision: Preeclampsia may be indicated by any changes in vision, such as blurred vision, seeing spots or flashing lights, or momentary vision loss. These visual abnormalities necessitate prompt medical attention.
- Abdomen discomfort: Severe or chronic upper abdomen discomfort, particularly on the right side behind the ribs, may indicate preeclampsia-related liver issues and should be checked by a healthcare specialist.
- Consistent nausea, vomiting, or an overall sense of being poorly may be signs of preeclampsia, especially when combined with other symptoms.
What precautions should be taken to avoid preeclampsia?
- Attending planned prenatal checkups is critical for the early discovery, monitoring, and management of preeclampsia. Regular check-ups enable healthcare personnel to examine blood pressure, urine protein levels, and other pertinent signs.
- Blood Pressure Monitoring: As indicated by the healthcare professional, regular home blood pressure monitoring helps track any swings and allows for quick intervention if it gets elevated. It is critical to use a dependable blood pressure monitor and to use optimal technique.
- Medication Compliance: It is critical to take any prescription drugs, such as blood pressure meds or anticonvulsants, as instructed if prescribed by a healthcare practitioner. Adhering to the suggested regimen aids in blood pressure regulation and the prevention of problems.
- Rest and Self-Care: Adequate rest and self-care are vital for preeclampsia management. Pregnant women suffering from preeclampsia may be recommended to limit their physical activity and take regular pauses. Prioritizing self-care tasks, such as getting adequate sleep, eating a nutritious food, and being hydrated, promotes general well-being.
- Monitoring Fetal Movement: It is critical to keep track of the baby’s movements. If there are any visible changes in fetal activity or if movements are drastically decreased, notify your healthcare professional immediately.
- Dietary Improvements: It is good to follow a balanced and nutritious diet as prescribed by a healthcare physician or qualified dietitian. This usually entails eating meals high in key nutrients and avoiding excessive salt consumption, which can lead to fluid retention and high blood pressure.
- Monitoring Symptoms: It is critical to keep an eye out for any changes in symptoms. It is critical to notify your healthcare physician as soon as you see any indications of worsening preeclampsia, such as severe headaches, vision abnormalities, stomach discomfort, or abrupt swelling.
- Hospitalization and Delivery: In severe cases of preeclampsia, hospitalization may be necessary to monitor blood pressure, organ function, and fetal well-being. To guarantee the baby’s safety, the healthcare professional may consider inducing labor or conducting a cesarean section, depending on the severity and gestational age.
How early can preeclampsia be diagnosed?
- Prenatal Check-ups: Prenatal checkups allow healthcare practitioners to monitor blood pressure, look for protein in the urine, evaluate symptoms, and do other essential tests. If preeclampsia develops, these checkups allow for early identification and quick intervention.
- First-Trimester Screening: Some early screening procedures, such as monitoring blood pressure and analyzing medical history, can identify women who are more likely to develop preeclampsia. Additional tests, such as uterine artery blood flow measurements or particular biomarkers, may be performed in research settings but are not currently common practice.
- Pregnant women should be on the lookout for signs of preeclampsia, such as high blood pressure, proteinuria, edema, severe headaches, vision abnormalities, and stomach discomfort. Any concerned signs or symptoms should be immediately reported to a healthcare practitioner.
- High-Risk Factors: A history of preeclampsia in prior pregnancies, persistent hypertension, diabetes, or autoimmune illnesses are all risk factors for developing preeclampsia. Individuals with these risk indicators may be closely monitored by healthcare practitioners, who may undertake early treatments or more regular monitoring.
- While preeclampsia is commonly linked with the late second or third trimester, it is crucial to emphasize that it can develop later in pregnancy or even after birth. Postpartum preeclampsia can occur during the first few days after giving birth, necessitating close monitoring throughout the postpartum period.