Also known as toxemia of pregnancy, preeclampsia can affect your health and the health of your growing baby. This serious condition may affect pregnant women during the second half of their pregnancies. Although the exact cause of preeclampsia remains unknown, the “New York Times’ Health Guide” advises that possible causes include autoimmune disorders, genetic factors and blood vessel problems. Like other health concerns during pregnancy, recognizing the symptoms of this serious condition can alert you to its presence and prompt you to contact your doctor. Although warning signs may indicate the existence of toxemia, some women exhibit no symptoms.
One common symptom of toxemia involves swelling in your hands and face, including the area around your eyes. Caused by water retention, this symptom often accompanies pregnancy toxemia. However, many pregnant women experience edema without having preeclampsia, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sudden Weight Gain
Many pregnant women expect to see the bathroom scale creeping upward as the pregnancy progresses. A gradual, steady increase can indicate a normal pregnancy. Watch for any sudden weight gain that amounts to more than 2 lbs. in a single week. This may indicate the possibility of preeclampsia.
A frightening symptom for many people, sudden visual problems can point toward the possibility of pregnancy toxemia. The severity of this symptom can range from blurry spots to the temporary loss of vision. The Preeclampsia Foundation warns that sudden changes in eyesight during pregnancy can signal the presence of swelling in your brain, a symptom of preeclampsia.
High Blood Pressure
Although you may not feel any different with high blood pressure, this symptom may provide a warning of preeclampsia. Getting regular blood pressure readings will allow you to notice any sudden or gradual increases in pressure.
Upper Abdominal Pain
Some women with preeclampsia experience painful sensations in their upper abdomens. Watch for discomfort or pain that seems to come from under your ribcage, particularly on the right side. This pain may seem to extend into your shoulder. A possible symptom of a liver problem, this condition requires prompt medical care.
Often, the first indicator of preeclampsia may show up in a urine test. Known as proteinuria, excessive amounts of protein in your urine can warn your doctor that you may be developing toxemia of pregnancy. Damaged vessels in your kidneys cause protein from your blood to leak into your urine. You may also notice a decrease in urine output and a change in the color of your urine. Dark urine, especially reddish urine, can indicate a problem.
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