Preeclampsia: causes, symptoms, and treatment

Preeclampsia is a common pregnancy disorder, that can become serious if left untreated. In this article, I will explain what Preeclampsia is, what are its symptoms, its causes, and its treatment.

Waed Abujoudeh | Registered MidwifeWaed Abu Joudeh
Dec 27th 2022
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What is Preeclampsia?

It is one of the common pregnancy disorders, that can also occur postpartum. It affects the mother’s and the baby’s health. Preeclampsia is connected to gestational hypertension, and it occurs usually after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Symptoms of Preeclampsia

- Severe headache

- Blurry vision

- Stomach pain

- Nausea and vomiting

- Swelling of face and extremities

- Difficulty breathing

- Decreased urination

- Sudden weight gain

- Sudden spike in blood pressure

Signs that appear in lab tests

- Increase in protein levels in urine

- Kidney and liver functions anomalies

Causes 

There are many causes of this condition, however, most fingers point to the placenta which oversees transferring nutrients to the fetus. When there is a problem within the blood vessels of the placenta and they become narrower, this leads to gestational hypertension and a decrease in the blood flow to the fetus.

Risk factors

- Age: this condition is more common among women who are younger than 18 or older than 40.

- Previous Preeclampsia.

- Carrying multiples.

- Autoimmune diseases:  such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Multiple Sclerosis.

- Family history of Preeclampsia.

- Chronic diseases: Such as hypertension, diabetes, anemia, or PCOS.

- Obesity.

Can Preeclampsia be prevented?

- Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy.

- Avoiding the consumption of processed foods.

- Reduce salt in food and avoid salty foods such as pickles.

- Manage any chronic or autoimmune conditions before pregnancy.

- Get enough rest.

- Exercise regularly.

- Limit caffeine consumption to two cups a day.

Possible complications

If Preeclampsia is not diagnosed and treated it can cause complications like:

- Seizures, that happen in advanced cases.

- Slow fetal growth.

- Low birth weight.

- Hellp Syndrome, which causes low platelets count, red blood cell degeneration, and an increase in liver enzymes.

- Premature labor.

- Placental abruption.

- Kidney failure.

- Liver failure.

- Cardiovascular disease.

- Death.

Treatment

Treatment options vary depending on the stage of the pregnancy, the mother’s health, and the extent of the condition. If this occurs during the final weeks of the pregnancy, the best option is to deliver the baby either by c-section or labor induction. If this is not an option the treatment is set by the doctors after a thorough evaluation, by first treating hypertension and seizures.

Check out Spotting during pregnancy: a detailed guide

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