Understanding Preeclampsia and Eclampsia -- Diagnosis & Treatment
How Is Preeclampsia or Eclampsia Diagnosed?
If you notice rapid weight gain and swelling in your face or arms, make an appointment to see your doctor, because you could have preeclampsia. He or she will check your blood pressure and take a urine sample to look for protein in your urine.
A blood pressure reading that is consistently greater than 140/90 is above the normal range. If you're diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor may also do tests to check your liver, kidney function, and level of platelets (the blood cells involved in clotting) in your blood.
What Are the Treatments for Preeclampsia or Eclampsia?
Treatment for preeclampsia and eclampsia depends on the severity of the disease, the stage of your pregnancy, and the health of you and your baby.
If a woman is near the end of her pregnancy and has mild preeclampsia, she will likely have labor induced. If a woman is not near the end of her pregnancy and has mild preeclampsia, she will most likely be put on bed rest -- possibly in the hospital so that she can be observed carefully. In a few cases, a woman with mild preeclampsia may be able to go on bed rest at home once her blood pressure has been normalized, but she must seek medical care immediately if she experiences any symptoms of preeclampsia.
Careful follow-up of the mother and her baby is a major part of treatment for preeclampsia. If at any time the mother's condition worsens or the baby is not doing well, her doctor will recommend delivering the baby either vaginally or by cesarean birth.
If mild preeclampsia progresses to severe disease, a medicine (magnesium sulfate) will be given to reduce the chance that the woman will have a seizure, and antihypertensive drugs will be administered to lower the mother's blood pressure.
If the fetus is close to term or his or her lungs are developed, immediate delivery is usually recommended. In women with the full-blown condition, delivery is immediate regardless of the age of the fetus, because of the danger to the mother.
For the majority of women with preeclampsia or eclampsia, blood pressure returns to normal within a few days to a few weeks after delivery.