Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication. You may have high blood pressure, high protein levels in your urine, which indicates kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage if you have preeclampsia. Preeclampsia usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure was previously expected.
Preeclampsia, if left untreated, can cause serious – even fatal – complications for both the mother and the baby.
Premature delivery of the baby is frequently advised. The timing of delivery is determined by the severity of the preeclampsia and the number of weeks pregnant you are. Preeclampsia treatment before delivery includes careful monitoring and medications to lower blood pressure and manage complications.
Preeclampsia can develop after a baby is born, known as postpartum preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is distinguished by high blood pressure, proteinuria, or other kidney or other organ damage signs. You may not notice any symptoms. Preeclampsia symptoms are frequently detected during routine prenatal visits with a health care provider.
Preeclampsia symptoms and signs may include: In addition to high blood pressure, preeclampsia signs and symptoms may include:
- Excess protein in the urine (proteinuria) or other symptoms of kidney disease
- Platelet levels in the blood are low (thrombocytopenia)
- Increased liver enzymes indicate a problem with the liver.
- Extensive headaches
- Vision changes, such as temporary blindness, blurred vision, or light sensitivity
- Breathing difficulties caused by fluid in the lungs
- Upper abdominal pain, usually under the ribs on the right side
- Vomiting or nausea
During a healthy pregnancy, weight gain and swelling (edema) are normal. However, sudden weight gain or the appearance of edema, particularly in your face and hands, may indicate preeclampsia.
Attend your prenatal appointments so your healthcare provider can monitor your blood pressure. If you have severe headaches, blurred vision, other visual disturbances, severe stomach pain, or severe shortness of breath, contact your provider immediately or go to an emergency room.
Because headaches, nausea, and aches and pains are common pregnancy complaints, it can be difficult to tell when new symptoms are typical and when they may indicate a serious problem — especially if this is your first pregnancy. Contact your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms.
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