What is preeclampsia, symptoms, causes and how to detect it?

If you have heard about the preeclampsia, you may know that it is a disorder that occurs during pregnancy. This generates a set of symptoms that can affect both the mother and the baby. Depending on the severity of each case, there are various treatments to address this problem.

However, less is known about the causes of this disease. Therefore, if you are pregnant, it is good that you internalize about the main risk factors that produce preeclampsia and which are the signs to which you should be attentive. In this article, we will review with you what preeclampsia is and why it occurs.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs during pregnancy, affecting about 15% of pregnant women. It consists of a rise detension caused by pregnancy. It is a potentially dangerous disorder for both the mother and the baby, and may cause damage to the liver, kidneys and the mother's coagulation system.

It usually occurs after the fifth month of pregnancy (Y especially in the last weeks), although in a smaller number of cases it may appear earlier. It is also possible that preeclampsia manifests during labor or in the hours after giving birth.

In fact, it tends to develop early in pregnancy, but in reality it does not become evident until about the third trimester of pregnancy.

Doctors distinguish between severe cases and mild cases of preeclampsia. This is according to the severity of the symptoms that occur and therefore the treatment and action plan in each case is different. It is worth mentioning that most cases are mild preeclampsia.

Why is preeclampsia produced?

The causes of preeclampsia have not yet been accurately determined, it is believed that it is due to problems in the blood flow that reaches the placenta if it does not fit properly into the walls of the uterus, affecting the functioning of the arteries that carry blood to the placenta.

However, although the causes are not known with certainty, if several risk factors of preeclampsia have been detected. That is, it is known that certain groups of women are more likely to develop the disease. For this reason, it is important to be attentive if you belong to any of these groups and to inform your doctor about the background that may be risk factors.

One of the risk factors that can predispose the development of preeclampsia is the antecedents. If in a previous pregnancy you had preeclampsia or if a close family member had it (mother, sister, aunt or grandmother). Age also influences, since women who have more preeclampsia are those who are less than 20 years old or more than 40 years old.

If you suffer from certain diseases, it can also increase the likelihood of having preeclampsia during pregnancy. Among them diabetes, chronic hypertension, coagulation problems, kidney problems, or diseases of the immune system such as lupus.

Expectant mothers with multiple pregnancies (more than one baby) are also at greater risk. The same happens in obese women (with a body mass index greater than 30)

How to detect preeclampsia?

It is good, as we said before, to be aware of certain habitual symptoms. Anyway, we must bear in mind that these can sometimes go unnoticed as normal things of pregnancy. Therefore, the most important thing is to go periodically to the controls since your doctor should check the weight, blood pressure, and be aware of any other signal.

High blood pressure or high blood pressure is the most common symptom of preeclampsia. Another feature of this disorder is the presence of protein in the urine (this is detected with a simple urinalysis) or malfunction of the liver and kidney. Also an accelerated weight gain in a short time or a lot of swelling in the feet and hands could be signs of preeclampsia.

On the other hand, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, tends to cause other symptoms such as acute pain that is located under the ribs (especially on the right side), irritability, vertigo, vomiting and blurred vision.

In more severe cases there are symptoms such as little growth of the baby, low amount of amniotic fluid, premature placental abruption. They can also feel very strong headache and that it does not diminish, alterations in vision (blurred or dotted vision, sensitivity to light or temporary loss of vision), mental confusion and very intense pain in the upper part of the abdomen. This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor.

New Test for Preeclampsia-Mayo Clinic (March 2023)