Preeclampsia: Symptoms And Risks

Preeclampsia affects between five and eight percent of all pregnant women. What is it and what are the symptoms and risks?

When you discover you are pregnant, tons of emotions and thoughts rush through your head. Am I ready? Will I have a boy or a girl? What things can I do to make sure that my baby is healthy throughout the pregnancy and beyond? There is so much to worry over and get ready for your baby without adding health problems beyond your control to the equation. Preeclampsia is a disorder that affects five to eight percent of all pregnant women. Most often, preeclampsia affects women in their second or third trimesters, although it is possible for it to strike earlier. Although only a small percentage of pregnant women are affected, preeclampsia is not to be taken lightly. It is the cause of over 70,000 deaths in infants and mothers.

The main symptoms of preeclampsia include a high level of protein in the urine, high blood pressure and consistent swelling in the hands and feet. This is what makes visiting your obstetrician for your prenatal visits not only just important but crucial to the health of you and your baby. At each prenatal visit, your obstetrician will do a urinalysis and test your blood pressure to see if it has risen from the last visit. Some other symptoms you will want to look for in between visits with your doctor are nausea (it is common to feel nauseated during your pregnancy, but here you are looking for an excessive case of nausea), bloody urine, fever, vision problems (double or blurred vision), abdomen pain, fever, headaches and dizziness to name a few. If you find yourself having any of the above symptoms, do not hesitate to call your obstetrician immediately. Preeclampsia is nothing to be scoffed at. Early diagnosis is the key to having as healthy a pregnancy and delivery as possible under these conditions.

Some women have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia than others. Those at risk include any woman whose family members (mother and sisters, specifically) developed preeclampsia during their own pregnancies, women who are over the age of forty, women who are currently carrying more than one baby, women who are in their teens and women who had a prior history of kidney disease or high blood pressure before becoming pregnant. Women who have a history of high blood pressure immediately become worried when they become pregnant because they think they will automatically develop preeclampsia. However, this does not mean that you will surely develop preeclampsia. Your obstetrician will keep a close eye on your blood pressure to make sure it is always at a safe level.

Women who develop preeclampsia often have babies with lower birth weights. The reason for this is that preeclampsia deprives the vital placenta of all the blood nourishment it needs which, in turn, deprives the baby of food and air. Women who are diagnosed with preeclampsia and are far enough along in their pregnancy will usually have a doctor tell them that delivering the baby as soon as possible is safest for both the baby and the mother. If a pregnant women is still not far enough along yet in the pregnancy to deliver, a doctor may put the woman on bed rest or provide her with medication to help lower the blood pressure.

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