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Preeclampsia is a condition in which a woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy. Typically this can occur during the 20th week of pregnancy and last up to 6 weeks postpartum. Although there is no single cause of preeclampsia, women with history of high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disorder, or obesity are at a higher risk of developing it.

Often women do not notice any symptoms of this condition, as high blood pressure and high protein in urine are “silent symptoms”. Other preeclampsia symptoms can be similar to normal effects of pregnancy.  These noticeable symptoms include:

  • swollen hands and/or face
  • sudden weight gain (over a few days)
  • severe headaches
  • vision changes (seeing flashing lights or spots, blurriness, sensitivity to light)

Because these symptoms are common in pregnancy, your blood pressure and urine will be checked at each visit in order to diagnose preeclampsia.

The cure to preeclampsia is delivering the baby, but there is treatment for it throughout the pregnancy. Treatment depends on the severity of preeclampsia. Women with mild preeclampsia are advised to reduce the amount of salt in their diet and drink more water.  Severe preeclampsia may require treatments in the hospital and medication to control blood pressure and/or speed up the growth of the baby in order to deliver early.

Regular prenatal checkups are crucial to you and your baby’s health. Your doctor can diagnose and care for preeclampsia in order to reduce any health risks.

For more information about preeclampsia, consult with your doctor.