Eclampsia is the condition of sudden occurrence of seizures or fits in pregnant women. The seizure can be serious and life threatening. Eclampsia is caused due to preeclampsia which is sudden increase in blood pressure and increased levels of protein in urine during pregnancy. Pregnant women with mild symptoms of preeclampsia should stay connected with their doctors to monitor the growth of the baby and self.
Medications are prescribed to prevent eclampsia during pregnancy. Severe case of eclampsia can become fatal and can cause complications for the baby like preterm delivery and retarded growth. Prevention cannot be made to stop eclampsia during pregnancy but one can always be alert during the entire term to deliver the baby safely.
Preeclampsia is the only cause for eclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition during pregnancy that causes hypertension during 30-35 weeks of gestation period. The factors of preeclampsia can affect the normal functions of brain causing severe seizure or even coma.
The following two factors are responsible for causing preeclampsia :-
- Hypertension :
It can cause sudden increase in blood pressure which can force the blood into the arteries causing damage. In the result there can be inflammation of blood vessels and organs. Increased BP can affect the brain’s function seriously.
- Proteinuria :
Increased level of protein in your urine is the explanation of the term proteinuria. High blood pressure can affect the function of kidneys which does the task of filtering the waste products from the blood. It retains useful proteins and other minerals from the blood and purifies the blood. When the filters of the kidneys get damaged it may not be able to filter the proteins as before resulting in increased protein in the urine.
Who are at risk?
Women with a history of hypertension can develop preeclampsia and eclampsia. Getting pregnant in young age (below 20 years) or above 35 years can be a factor of risk. Diabetic women, women with autoimmune disorders and women who are malnourished during pregnancy have increased risk. Women who are obese and having frequent headaches and history of epilepsy have increased risk. Women who carry more than one baby in their womb are also at risk.
It is common to have nausea and vomiting sensation during pregnancy. But if you have sudden swelling of legs, hands or face it can be a sign of preeclampsia. If you have palpitation and dizziness it can be due to increased BP. Severe headache, sudden drowsiness, having sudden seizures during pregnancy is the clear indication of eclamsia. The affected women may lose her consciousness or become suddenly agitated due to abnormal brain’s activity.
Eclampsia (severe seizures) can affect both the mother and the newborn’s health. It can stop the normal functions of placenta depriving blood, oxygen and nutrients to the baby inside. There are chances for stillborn baby, preterm delivery and underweight baby for a woman with eclampsia or preeclampsia condition. In severe cases it can cause organ failure for the women causing kidney or liver failure.
Your gynecologist will closely monitor the health and collect complete medical history. She may order for various tests like blood profile, sodium and creatinine levels. High levels of creatinine in blood can be due to kidney’s filter damage. Urine analysis is done to check the levels of protein.
Priority will be given to deliver the baby safely and restore your health also, if you have crossed 35 weeks of pregnancy. Medications will be prescribed to control seizures and in some cases if things are out of control the baby will be delivered preterm. Anticonvulsive drugs are given once eclampsia is diagnosed along with drugs to treat increased blood pressure.
In severe cases, the woman will be hospitalized and closely monitored for any changes. She will be put on steroid drugs for the full development of the baby’s lungs and heart. Take nutritious food and get enough sleep and follow the instructions of your doctor to complete the term and deliver the baby safely.
The symptoms of eclampsia (seizures) will totally disappear after the delivery of the child. In many cases with apt emergency treatment the baby and the mother can be good in health. However there are few complications that can cause placental abruption forcing preterm delivery. Eclampsia is reported to cause death in 2% of women.
There is no way you can prevent developing seizures during pregnancy. But you can be alert and inform any changes with your doctor to treat sudden emergency like increased blood pressure. Health checkups and screenings are wise measures to prevent eclampsia during pregnancy.