Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
Preeclampsia is a dangerous combination of high blood pressure, fluid retention, and high levels of protein in the urine of women after their 20th week of pregnancy. Sometimes called toxemia, it affects about one in 20 pregnant women. If not treated, preeclampsia can worsen into eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition that involves seizures and coma. Preeclampsia puts unborn children and their mothers at risk.
Signs and Symptoms
- High blood pressure (above 140/90)
- Large increase in your systolic (top number) or diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure
- Excessive weight gain (more than five pounds in a week)
- Sudden weight gain over one or two days
- Retention of fluids, which causes the hands and face to swell, (pregnancy naturally causes the ankles to swell slightly, which is not necessarily a sign of preeclampsia)
- Reduction in the amount of your urine
What Causes It?
- Pain in the upper right side of your abdomen
- Disturbances to your vision, such as seeing flashing lights
Nobody knows what causes pre-eclampsia. However, certain women have a higher risk of developing it in pregnancy. They include women in their first pregnancy; teenagers and women over 40 who are pregnant; women carrying multiple fetuses; women who have already suffered pre-eclampsia; African-American women; and women who have had high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Once you have described your symptoms, your health care provider will take your blood pressure and examine your face and hands for evidence of fluid retention. He or she will want samples of your blood and urine, for tests to differentiate between preeclampsia and other diseases. Your provider will probably want you to collect all the urine you produce during a full day.
Excerpt from Integrative Medicine Access
Copyright Integrative Medicine Communications. Used with permission. Posted 4/00
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