Toxemia or preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication, in which the woman develops high blood pressure and high protein concentration in the urine. The condition can be fatal in severe conditions. The following article provides information about the various treatment options available for this condition.
Toxemia is the most common complication of pregnancy, affecting about 5% of the pregnant women. It is characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy (often during the 20th week). Its causes are unknown. Various theories suggest that lowered blood supply to the uterus, improper diet, lowered immunity, and damage to the blood vessels are the possible causes of this condition. Preexisting problems with blood pressure can also lead to this condition.
Also, first time mothers, women who have a family history of the disease, and women who have a history of kidney disorders are more prone to this condition. It is hard to detect the condition during early pregnancy, and it is usually detected in the later stages. It is a serious condition, and may lead to complications like heavy bleeding, induced labor, and cesarean delivery. It can cause harm to the baby and the mother, and can also lead to complications in the future such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The common symptoms during pregnancy include:
- Consistent rise in the blood pressure
- Excess amount of protein in the urine
- Severe headaches accompanied by nausea and dizziness
- Vision problems such as blurred vision and sensitivity to light
- Temporary vision loss in severe cases
- Other symptoms include sudden and abnormal weight gain (more than 2 pounds in a week) and increased urine output.
Treatment and Prevention
Toxemia is diagnosed during blood pressure checkups and urine tests, which are normally conducted during the regular health checkups. The need for the treatment arises, when the condition is confirmed by the doctor. The treatment methods may vary, depending on the level at which the condition is diagnosed. If the condition is detected in the early stages of pregnancy, the doctor may recommend the use of certain medications, that help in lowering the blood pressure.
Corticosteroids are recommended in severe cases, where there are chances of HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count) syndrome, which is a syndrome that affects pregnant women. Anticonvulsants may also be recommended to prevent seizures. Apart from the aforementioned medications, doctor may also recommend complete bed rest to help lower blood pressure, and increase the flow of blood to the placenta.
Lying on the left side is advised, as it helps in reducing the pressure on the baby and improving the blood supply. Regular checkup to monitor the blood pressure is a must. Tests to monitor the baby’s well-being are also necessary in severe cases. These are some of the treatment measures to counter the condition during the initial stages. If the condition is diagnosed in the later stages of pregnancy, induced labor is the only option available (in severe cases). The doctor may also recommend a C-section, in case of an emergency.
As one is not sure about the causes of this condition, the preventive measures are hard to determine. However, as toxemia and high blood pressure are related, having the right diet which is low on salt content is recommended. The consumption of foods rich in iron and vitamins should be encouraged. Since, there are chances that vitamin D can lower the instances, vitamin D should also be incorporated in the diet. Pregnant women must take ample rest, and avoid the consumption of alcohol and smoking. Urine testing and blood pressure check should be conducted at regular intervals to detect any kind of abnormality.
There aren’t any tests to determine whether the condition can develop in the subsequent pregnancy, which is why proper monitoring of the woman and the fetus is very important.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.