Pregnancy is one vital stage in any woman’s life that brings unprecedented changes and prepares her for a new life ahead. However, it is not exactly smooth ride and many women undergo specific conditions and health complications after onset of pregnancy. Some of these complications may have genetic roots while others may be caused by lifestyle, hygiene and other factors. A serious pregnancy related complication some women face is Preeclampsia. It is diagnosed when a pregnant woman has protein in the urine and high blood pressure too. It can have serious repercussions if not treated in time. It may lead to damage of vital organs in the affected woman’s body.
Nuances of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia usually takes place in the second half of pregnancy. Most women develop it in their 3rd trimester. However, in some instances, women develop it after childbirth. It can affect one in 20 pregnant women. Women with specific health conditions like kidney disease and chronic hypertension develop preeclampsia, and it affects those who get pregnant in their 40s more than younger ones. Women giving birth to twins and triplets and obese women fall prey to it more than others. If the preeclampsia is serious, the affected woman may need to opt for early delivery of the baby. It may also recur in an affected woman. The affected woman’s fetus may cope with growth problems and low birth weight is also possible.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
The major symptoms of preeclampsia can either develop slowly or they can flare up all of a sudden. These include:
- Visual changes like flashing lights, blurred vision, oversensitivity to light.
- Strong headache that refuses to subside.
- Swelling, around the feet and ankles, caused by fluid retention.
- Pain in upper right abdomen
- Breathing troubles
- Seizure in a most acute stage of the complication, which is called eclampsia and it is a medical emergency.
- Excessive blood pressure
However, the difficulty lies in the fact some of these symptoms appear in women who are not afflicted with the ailment. A section of women may have hypertension anyway and that alone cannot suffice to be a precursor of this condition.
Causes of Preeclampsia
It is not clear as to why preeclampsia affects pregnant women and this makes it hard for doctors to diagnose affected lot. There could be the genetic root behind it since it affects women in the same family. However, it is related to anomalies in placenta the organ that nourishes the fetus throughout pregnancy. The medical experts suspect sometimes it can be caused by an underlying autoimmune disorder.
Treatment options for Preeclampsia
The doctor may ask the women to go for Blood tests and Fetal ultrasound. To check the amount of protein in urine, the affected woman may have to undergo urine test. A non stress test is also carried out to understand if fetus movement is taking place normally.
Childbirth itself is necessary for a woman with this complication to get some relief, as doctors often point out. Delivery often resolves major symptoms. If the affected woman is in also stage of pregnancy, delivery is the best choice. But in cases of women afflicted with the ailment in the early stage of pregnancy, this is definitely not an option.
However, sometimes the affected women may need medications to thwart blood pressure spikes as well as damage to key organs. The doctor may select specific and safer high blood pressure medication for the woman. In extreme cases, she may be administered with IV magnesium sulfate, which is a powerful anticonvulsive medication which can help fight the onset of seizures.
Apart from taking medications, women affected by this condition also need to take adequate rest. This is because enough rest helps bring down high blood pressure. This is also beneficial for the fetus.
4. Changes in diet
To cope with the elevated blood pressure and allied symptoms that are typical of preeclampsia, the affected woman may need to make some alterations in diet. Doctors advise enhanced amount of protein in the meals, reduction in salt intake and keeping body well hydrated for a better outcome.
Women who develop an extreme form of this condition need hospitalization to evade any mishap both to her and the fetus, as it is.
Sometimes, the doctors need to find a balance between treating the mother and ensuring the fetus health is not impacted adversely. That can be hard given the fact preeclampsia symptoms can become severe quite fast. Even after delivery, some women still have the risk of recurrence of the condition and they may need long term monitoring.
Ways to prevent Preeclampsia
Since the exact cause of Preeclampsia is not clear, it is uncertain whether taking preventive measures can eliminate the chance of its onset in a woman. However, if you plan to get pregnant and want to evade the complication, a few preventive measures are worth trying for. These are:
- Working out- you may do light exercises that can keep your body in shape and may help combat blood pressure and related conditions.
- Meditation- sometimes, trying mediation can help you balance the mental unrest caused by the symptoms.
- Watching weight- During pregnancy, weight gain is normal. However, you may try not to gain excess weight as it can worsen your situation.
- Dental hygiene- While the reason is still not clear, it has been found women with periodontal disease are more vulnerable to developing preeclampsia. So, you should ensure good dental hygiene is maintained both before and during pregnancy.
Summing it all up
Preeclampsia is a serious health complication faceting pregnant women, but it is not impossible to cope with it either. Affected women, based on the condition of the ailment, should seek medical advice regarding preventive and remedial measures. Ensuring the fetus growth is not affected is one priority for such women. However, taking suitable medication to control symptoms is another priority. The lifestyle and dietary changes suggested by a doctor can help such women cope better with symptoms of the complication. Family members also play a major role in supporting the women to cope with the condition.