Preeclampsia – Know the Symptoms

May is preeclampsia awareness month.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal. Even a slight rise in blood pressure may be a sign of preeclampsia. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for both you and your baby. If you have preeclampsia, the only cure is delivery of your baby.

If you experience any of the following symptoms during your pregnancy or after delivery, call Pocatello Women’s Health Clinic right away. Having symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have preeclampsia, but they are cause for concern and require medical evaluation. We measure signs of preeclampsia which include high blood pressure and sometimes protein in the urine.

  • Swelling of the hands and face, especially around the eyes (swelling of the feet is more common in late pregnancy and probably not a sign of preeclampsia)
  • Weight gain of more than five pounds in a week
  • Headache that won’t go away, even after taking medication such as acetaminophen
  • Changes in vision like seeing spots or flashing lights; partial or total loss of eyesight
  • Nausea or throwing up, especially suddenly, after mid pregnancy (not the morning sickness that many women experience in early pregnancy)
  • Upper right belly pain, sometimes mistaken for indigestion or the flu
  • Difficulty breathing, gasping, or panting
  • Hyperreflexia

It’s also important to know that some women with preeclampsia have NO symptoms or they “just don’t feel right.” If you have a sense that something’s wrong, even without symptoms, trust yourself and please contact us immediately.

What You Can Do

ATTEND all of your prenatal appointments

TALK to your healthcare provider before or early in your pregnancy about your risk for preeclampsia

MONITOR your blood pressure and weight regularly, and contact your healthcare provider immediately if either becomes unexpectedly high

KNOW your family history, especially for pregnancy, high blood pressure and heart disease

Eat RIGHT, exercise REGULARLY, and MAINTAIN a healthy weight