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Pregnancy poisoning - symptoms that you need to know

Pregnancy poisoning - symptoms that you need to know


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Preeclampsia was formerly known as pregnancy intoxication or EPH-gestosis. It is a serious and life-threatening illness. It accounts for around 14% of pregnant deaths worldwide. It is dangerous for the fetus and affects nearly 2-15% of pregnancies. Such a high incidence, however, is not associated with common knowledge about this disease. So what exactly is pregnancy poisoning, what are its symptoms, treatment and prevention. Read!

Pregnancy poisoning - definition

Pregnancy intoxication is defined as hypertension (pressure above 140/90 mmHg) developing or exacerbating after 20 weeks of pregnancy combined with proteinuria (above 0.3 g protein / day). A characteristic feature is also the symptoms of organ damage, for example kidney or liver damage. Edema is not a necessary criterion for diagnosis, as it can also occur in the course of a properly developing pregnancy. This is a change from the classical definition of EPH-gestosis, which was defined as hypertension (H), proteinuria (P) and edema (E)).

Pregnancy poisoning - symptoms

In itself, preeclampsia can be asymptomatic. Diagnosis is based on regular blood pressure measurements and laboratory tests. In some cases, however, the following may appear: severe abdominal pain located on the right side, headache, dizziness, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath and visual disturbances. Such symptoms may be the first manifestation of severe preeclampsia and may indicate a sudden increase in pressure (hypertensive crisis) or may precede the symptoms of eclampsia. Hence, observing them in a pregnant woman should always be an indication for an urgent visit to the doctor or to call an ambulance.

Which women are particularly at risk of developing preeclampsia?

Due to the fact that it is still unknown what the exact causes of preeclampsia are, the efforts of doctors focus on distinguishing those women who are at greatest risk of developing this disease. This allows the introduction of prevention and earlier diagnosis, and thus faster implementation of appropriate therapy. Therefore, women with:

  • chronic kidney disease.
  • autoimmune diseases (e.g. systemic lupus erythematosus or antiphospholipid syndrome).
  • type I or II diabetes.
  • pre-pregnancy hypertension.
  • Elements or women who have had at least 10 years since their last pregnancy.
  • Over 40 years old.
  • In multiple pregnancies.
  • Obese (BMI above 35)

Women burdened with the above-mentioned risk factors should be under special obstetric care from the beginning of pregnancy. What's more, they are advised to prevent preeclampsia in the form of use of acetylsalicylic acid until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy and calcium supplementation.

Preeclampsia - complications

Preeclampsia is associated with numerous negative consequences for the health of the pregnant woman and her child. So what could be the complications of this disease?

  • Eclampsia - the most serious and also the most-fatal complication of preeclampsia. It is manifested by a seizure or coma that cannot be explained by another cause. I am obliged to terminate my pregnancy immediately. It affects about 2% of women with preeclampsia.
  • HELLP team - very heavy and burdened, like eclampsia, high mortality complication of severe preeclampsia. His picture consists of hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), thrombocytopenia and features of liver damage. HELLP syndrome affects up to 10 to 20% of women with pre-cancerous disease. Most often it is associated with the need to terminate pregnancy quickly.
  • Fetus consequences - preeclampsia may result in premature delivery (the most common cause), IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation), intrauterine death of a child, or an increased risk of perinatal death.
  • Distant consequences for the mother - previous preeclampsia is associated with an increased risk of strokes, ischemic heart disease, or obstetric complications in subsequent pregnancies.

Pregnancy poisoning is associated with serious and life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is particularly important to observe the pregnant woman throughout the pregnancy and to respond quickly if her condition worsens.

Pregnancy poisoning - treatment

The only and definitive way to treat preeclampsia is termination of pregnancy. As a result, the doctors' goal is to minimize the risk of maternal complications until the child reaches appropriate maturity. To accelerate this process, glucocorticosteroids are used.

Thus, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia, especially a severe one, is usually admitted to hospital. She is undergoing antihypertensive therapy and her and her unborn toddler are being closely monitored. Pregnancy is usually ended by caesarean section no later than 37 weeks of pregnancy. If there are indications for it, then earlier.

Preeclampsia (formerly known as gestosis or pregnancy intoxication) is a common disease and at the same time very dangerous to the health and life of the mother and child. As a result, its early detection is particularly important. Regular blood pressure measurements and strict adherence to medical recommendations in case of its occurrence.

Bibliography:Internal Szczeklik 2018/19Gynecology and obstetrics edited by Grzegorz H. Bręborowicz



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