If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably read up on some of the risk factors associated with pregnancy and want to know more about what to expect in the coming months. This week, Oohvie explores what we know about preeclampsia, also known as toxemia, and what symptoms you should log in Oohvie to report to your HealthLynked provider if you think you might be at risk for preeclampsia.
What Is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure, excess proteins in the urine, and swelling of the body, especially the legs and feet, usually in the late stages of pregnancy. The severity varies from woman to woman, but if left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious health consequences to both mother and fetus, including seizures (eclampsia), stroke during delivery, and even death. About 5% of all pregnant women develop preeclampsia, and there is no preventative measure that can be taken to avoid the condition. Doctors remain uncertain as to the exact cause of preeclampsia, but managing the condition early can curtail long-term effects (Healthline, 2018).
Preeclampsia Risk Factors
You should talk to your doctor about preeclampsia if you’re over the age of thirty-five, in your teens, have a mother or sister who suffered from the condition, or have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disorders (Healthline, 2018). There’s research suggesting genetic factors, blood vessel conditions, autoimmune disorders, obesity, and first pregnancy also put women at higher risk for preeclampsia (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Make sure your HealthLynked patient profile is updated with all your medical records and discuss any apparent risk factors with your doctor before becoming pregnant.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
It’s common for women with preeclampsia to not experience any symptoms of the condition, or they may mistake symptoms for classic pregnancy side effects like vomiting or weight gain. Some women report severe headaches, increased or decrease urine output, or visual impairment like blurry visions, flashes, or light sensitivity. In mild or severe cases, there may be pain in the abdominal region around the ribs, shortness of breath, fluid build-up in the lungs, and kidney pain (WebMD, 2019).
Often the only real solution for preeclampsia is to give birth. The condition tends to correct itself a few weeks after birth when the body has had a chance to readjust. During pregnancy, the best treatment measure is frequent and regular blood pressure checks and exams with your doctor. Be sure to update Oohvie with any symptoms to ensure they have the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Gaither, Kecia. “Preeclampsia: Signs, Causes, Risk Factors, Complications, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, 13 Dec. 2019, www.webmd.com/baby/preeclampsia-eclampsia#1.
“Preeclampsia.” HealthLine – Health – Preeclampsia , HealthLine, 4 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/preeclampsia#symptoms.
“Preeclampsia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preeclampsia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355745.