If you’re expecting a baby, there are a number of factors that might cause your pregnancy to become high risk. One of the most common conditions is preeclampsia, which can be dangerous to you and your unborn baby.
One of the best ways to successfully treat preeclampsia is early detection. And knowing all the symptoms can help lead to a quick diagnosis. Anita Gondy, MD, Saovaros V. Michaels, MD, and Ankita Raman, MD, the OB/GYN team at Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada, Northwest in Las Vegas, Nevada, explain some of the lesser known symptoms that might mean you have preeclampsia.
What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure, as well as protein in your urine, that usually develops during pregnancy. You can develop preeclampsia starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy up until 48 hours after giving birth.
Preeclampsia is one of the most common pregnancy complications, and without treatment, it can cause serious outcomes, including death, in expectant mothers and their unborn children. Potential complications to your baby include preterm birth, low birth weight, and increased risk of difficulties for your child due to preterm birth.
Risks of untreated preeclampsia to you include developing potentially dangerous organ or cardiovascular problems and full-blown eclampsia. Preeclampsia can also cause your placenta to rupture, which is dangerous to you and your child.
You’re more likely to develop preeclampsia if you have high blood pressure, have a history of preeclampsia with previous pregnancies, are expecting multiples, or have diabetes, kidney disease, or certain autoimmune diseases.
Lesser known symptoms of preeclampsia
Some of the more common, well-known symptoms of preeclampsia include high blood pressure, serious headaches, swelling of extremities, blurred vision, and vomiting. In addition to these symptoms, you might also experience the following signs if you have preeclampsia:
- Sudden weight gain due to fluid retention
- Breathing difficulty
- Reduced urination
- Changes in your mental state
- Pain on the right side of your upper abdomen
- Shoulder pain
- Your baby growing more slowly than is typical
Additionally, not all cases of preeclampsia cause symptoms. Some women have no outward signs of preeclampsia and get diagnosed at routine pregnancy care appointments.
Diagnosing and treating preeclampsia
Our providers screen for preeclampsia as a routine part of pregnancy care appointments. This includes checking to see if you’ve experienced preeclampsia symptoms as well as conducting preeclampsia screenings, as not all women experience symptoms.
Our plan for you involves aiming to prevent preeclampsia before it happens. This includes supporting you living in a pregnancy lifestyle that reduces your risk, and for some women, taking a low dose of aspirin daily during pregnancy.
If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, your risk of complications is reduced by following our treatment plan. Treatment for preeclampsia can include:
- Bed rest
- Increased monitoring of your pregnancy
- Medication to reduce your and your baby’s risk of complications
In some cases, we might need to monitor you in the hospital or deliver your baby early to keep you both safe.
While preeclampsia makes your pregnancy higher risk, the right monitoring and treatment after an early diagnosis greatly increase your odds of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
For more assistance with preeclampsia or other high-risk pregnancy concerns, contact us to schedule an appointment.