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Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia symptoms and treatment

Affecting a small percentage of women, preeclampsia is high blood pressure that occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, there are certain recognized risk factors. Expectant mothers who are in their first pregnancy, are over 35, are diabetic or have a history of high blood pressure or kidney problems, are obese or are having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.) are at increased risk of developing preeclampsia.

Symptoms of Preeclampsia

Because some preeclampsia symptoms closely resemble normal physical changes that occur during pregnancy, an expectant mother might unknowingly ignore them. For example, weight gain and edema -- swelling of the hands and feet -- can be indicative of preeclampsia, but a certain amount of weight gain and swelling in the extremities, particularly in the last trimester, can also be simply normal developments in a pregnancy. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, vision problems and persistent headaches. Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed through medical examination and testing that reveals the presence of high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

Treatment of Mild and Severe Preeclampsia

Since preeclampsia is induced by pregnancy, the only thing that will completely eliminate it is the birth of the baby. For a woman whose pregnancy is very close to full term, her doctor may choose to induce labor in order to prevent the preeclampsia from worsening. This is also the course of action for women who are exhibiting signs of severe preeclampsia because it puts the health of both mother and baby in jeopardy. Aside from those related to early delivery, the major risk to the baby stems from the physical effects of the mother's preeclampsia in terms of blood and oxygen supply in the womb; the baby itself does not share the condition and does not also have preeclampsia at birth.

For women with mild preeclampsia who have not yet reached the 37-week mark in their pregnancies, there are many medical strategies that may be undertaken to manage the condition until the baby can be safely delivered. Standard blood-pressure control measures such as hydration and sodium reduction can be helpful, as, in some cases, can blood-pressure-lowering medication.

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