Preeclampsia is a disorder that affects women during their pregnancy. In some cases it can progress very rapidly into eclampsia. Preeclampsia and eclampsia are life-threatening pregnancy disorders for both the mother and the baby. Early delivery of the fetus is the only treating option. However, in less severe cases medications against the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and close monitoring of the situation may prevent the progress of the disease.
Preeclampsia and some other pregnancy disorders usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy (Read about: depression related to pregnancy). It is characterized by high blood pressure, presence of the proteins in the urine and swelling of the body, especially swelling of the face and hands. In very rare cases preeclampsia can occur before the 20th week of pregnancy.
Pregnancy Disorders Causes
The real cause of preeclampsia is not known. However, for many decades different theories have been developed that try to explain the cause of preeclampsia.
These theories include:
- Underlying maternal risks for cardiovascular disease
- Changes in immune factors
- Improper cardiovascular adaptations to pregnancy
- Changes in the biology of placenta
- The systemic inflammatory response
- A variety of hormones and other proteins that are in the mother’s circulation
- Deficiencies in essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins etc.
The main theories focus on the placenta and they try to describe the development of preeclampsia into two stages. In the first stage, the placenta produces some factors that enter the maternal circulation. During the second stage, the disease has developed with its signs and symptoms like high blood pressure, abnormalities of the liver, kidneys and coagulation.
Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is one of the most serious pregnancy disorders that affects women. It can be particularly dangerous because in many cases the disease develops in silence. Many women suffering from preeclampsia don’t feel or notice any sign and symptom until they are admitted to the hospital or prescribed bed rest during a routine prenatal check-up.
Proper prenatal care is essential in order to diagnose this condition on time. During every prenatal check-up it is very important to check the blood pressure, check the weight and test the urine for proteins.
Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- High blood pressure – which is traditionally defined as a blood pressure greater than 140/90.
- Swelling especially in the face and hands – certain swelling during pregnancy is normal, especially in the feet. However, edema is the accumulation of excess fluid. When edema develops in the face, around the eyes and in the hands can be a concern.
- Sudden weight gain – especially weight gain more than 2 pounds in a week is a sign of preeclampsia.
- Vision changes – are the most important and serious symptoms of preeclampsia, which are associated with irritation of the central nervous system. Vision changes can be a sign of swelling of the brain.
- Proteinuria – is the presence of proteins in the urine. Proteinuria is another sign of preeclampsia. If proteinuria is greater than 1+ may signify the onset of preeclampsia. If proteinuria is greater than 2+, your health care provider will run some further tests. Sometimes a sample of urine collected during the 24 hours is necessary in order to determine the exact quantity of protein in the urine.