Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that mainly causes high blood pressure in women. Here are its signs, causes and ways to cope up.
Pregnancy comes with a lot of risks and complications associated with it, including preeclampsia. Have you ever heard of it? It is a pregnancy complication in which the pregnant woman has high blood pressure and other symptoms of damage to another organ system, usually the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia mostly starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal before. If ignored and left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to severe complications for both you and your baby, and can prove to be fatal. If you have preeclampsia, the most effective treatment is the delivery of your baby. Even after giving birth, it can take time to recover from this complication.
If you get diagnosed with preeclampsia at an early stage in your pregnancy, it can get difficult to deliver the baby as he/she requires more time to grow and develop. However, you need to avoid putting yourself or your baby at the risk of any serious complications. In some cases, preeclampsia may even develops after giving birth to the baby, which is called postpartum preeclampsia. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Rahul Manchanda, Senior Consultant and Head Gynae Endoscopy, PSRI HOSPITAL and a Patron of SeekMed, about the signs, causes and natural ways to cope up from preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia can sometimes be asymptomatic as well. High blood pressure may develop gradually or it may have a sudden onset. You need to keep a check on your blood pressure as it is an important part of prenatal care because the first symptom of thus condition an increase in blood pressure. Blood pressure that is more than 140/90 millimeters, measured on atleast two different time intervals and four hours apart is considered as abnormal. According to Dr. Rahul, some other signs of preeclampsia are:
1. Too much protein in the urine
Preeclampsia may sometimes occur without any significant symptoms, but in many cases it is seen that the amount of protein increases in the urine. It may also indicate certain other problems in the kidney. Too much protein in the urine is not good for the body and is one of the main signs of preeclampsia.
2. Severe headaches
Preeclampsia may also cause severe headaches due to increased blood pressure. Dipping your feet in warm water and applying an ice pack behind your head may help you get some relief. You can talk to your doctor about treating this symptom of preeclampsia.
If you are having nausea and vomitting coming back again in mid pregnancy, then this can also be a sign of preeclampsia. However, some symptoms of preeclampsia may come and go and need to be monitored by the doctor. If you're having persistent or recurring nausea, then you need to talk to your gynaecologist about the same.
4. Decreased urine
Along with too much protein in the urine, you might also experience the symptom of decreased urine in preeclampsia. This is a signs that your kidneys are not functioing properly, hence preeclampsia. If you observe that you are not urinating much, it can happen because of the constriction of your blood vessels from increasing blood pressure.
5. Shortness of breath
High blood pressure is mostly indicated by shortness of breath. If you are experiencing this problem during mid pregnancy, then you might have developed preeclampsia. This symptom should immediately be reported to the doctor for further diagnosis to understand the underlying condition and medical treatment.
6. Abdominal pain
Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms of preeclampsia. You might have pain in the upper right part of the abdomen. The pain can even radiate towards the right side of your back. With this sign, you can keep a hot compression on the affected area for relief. And, your doctor can prescribe medications to ease the pain.
What causes preeclampsia?
The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown but can be influenced by a lot of factors. Many experts think that it begins in the placenta, which is the organ that nourishes the baby during the pregnancy. In the early stages of pregnancy, new blood vessels develop and evolve to transport blood to the placenta properly. In women who have this condition, these blood vessels do not develop or function properly. The blood vessels are narrower than the normal ones and react differently to hormonal changes, which reduces the blood flow and pressure in the body. As per Dr. Rahul, here are the main causes of high blood pressure during pregnancy:
- Damage to the blood vessels
- Genetic factor
- Problems with the immune system
- Less blood flow to the uterus
Natural ways to treat preeclampsia
The more serious your preeclampsia and the earlier it will happen in your pregnancy, which can put you and your baby at a higher risk. The best treatment for preeclampsia is induced labor and early delivery. If you get diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor will make a detailed schedule for prenatal visits. As per several studies too, the most effective treatment for preeclampsia is delivery. However, there are some natural ways that can treat preeclampsia, such as:
1. Drink plenty of water
Taking enough fluids, especially water is good for you and your baby. Drinking plenty of water can help in fighting the sign of decreased urine of preeclampsia. You should have atleast 7-8 glasses of water everyday as suggested by experts and studies. Drinking a good amount of water reduces pressure on your blood vessels and keeps the levels controlled.
2. Consume protein rich diet
Eating protein rich foods which have good bioavailability of protein such as milk based foods or chicken, fish, egg, soybean, etc is adviced in this condition. You should avoid taking any protein supplements as they are not naturally made and can harm your body in the long run. A protein rich diet can help in dealing with preeclampsia and its major symptoms.
3. Eat less salt
The woman should not consume extra salt as it can become the main cause of hypertension in pregnancy. Try and eat as much home cooked food as possible. You can cope up with preeclampsia naturally by less salt intake in your foods. You can decide on the per day consumption with your health care expert. This remedy can be extremely effective for a healthy pregnancy. However, take a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet.
4. Daily exercise
Physical exercise is a friend for your body and can help in coping up with many risks and complications even during pregnancy. Getting moderate and regular exercise is also believed to relieve the symptoms of preeclampsia. However, do not put too much pressure on your abdominal area and prefer doing light exercises. You can talk to your doctor or fitness expert about yoga or meditation as well.
5. Avoid smoking and alcohol
Smoking and alcohol should be restricted during pregnancy for not just avoiding and treating high blood pressure but also to protect the baby and your health. Both cigarettes and alcohol can raise your blood pressure, putting the baby at risk. And, alcohol consumption can also cause a lot of problems for your baby in the womb, from physical to mental abnormalities.
6. Regular prenatal checkups
The pregnant woman should go for regular prenatal checkups to avoid any risk or complications of pregnancy, including preeclampsia. You can make a schedule of medical checkups with your gynaecologist to be prepared and take necessary measures to prevent any risk factor. And, resting on the left side of your body can also help in decreasing the pressure to major blood vessels.
Therefore, these were the symptoms, causes and natural ways to cope up from preeclampsia by Dr. Rahul Manchanda. If you experience any of the above mentioned signs of this condition, you need to talk to your doctor about the same. Sudden weight gain and swellings, specifically in your face and hands might also occur with preeclampsia. But these also happen in many normal pregnancies, so they are not the exact symptoms of preeclampsia and a proper diagnosis is required by an expert.
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