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Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia: Causes and Treatments

Signs and Symptoms of Pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia
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Many women with pre-eclampsia are admitted to hospital. If you are allowed to go home, you'll probably have to have your blood pressure checked at home, or have a home nurse visit every day or two, to make sure that your blood pressure is stable. In the past, women with pre-eclampsia were asked to eliminate their salt intake. Current understanding of pre-eclampsia, however, suggests that this is incorrect advice, and that women with pre-eclampsia can continue to eat salt, though not excessively.

If home bed rest doesn't improve your blood pressure, or at least stabilize it, or if you develop severe pre-eclampsia, then you may need to be admitted to the hospital. You'll probably need to receive fluids and medicines intravenously (through a needle in your vein). You might be given medication to lower your blood pressure, as well as a medication called magnesium sulfate, which is used to prevent seizures.

If your blood pressure stays dangerously high, if you develop seizures, or once your baby reaches a safe point in development, your health-care provider will deliver your baby. This does not necessarily mean that you will need a cesarean section. Many times your provider can give you medicines to start labor. In some special cases, you may need to have a cesarean section. If your health-care provider is convinced that your baby must be delivered before his or her lungs are fully matured, you may be given special medicines to speed lung development prior to delivery.

Because pre-eclampsia and eclampsia take several days to resolve after delivery, you will probably need to stay on blood pressure medications or magnesium sulfate for some time after your baby is born.

Prevention

Methods of preventing pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are somewhat controversial. Researchers are investigating whether taking an aspirin or more calcium each day would help decrease the risk of developing these disorders.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • You notice sudden weight gain during pregnancy.
  • You begin to experience swelling of the arms or face.
  • You develop a severe headache.
  • You notice changes in your vision.
  • You have abdominal pain.
  • You have vaginal bleeding.
  • You feel dizzy or faint.
  • You hear ringing in your ears.
  • You have trouble with nausea or vomiting.
  • You notice a decrease in your urine production.
  • There is blood in your urine or vomit.
  • You become confused.
  • You develop seizures.

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