Ways To Treat This Condition Before It Truns To Eclampsia

You may have heard of preeclampsia -- a possible complication of pregnancy. Your caregiver will check you for symptoms at each prenatal exam. But how is it treated? Family Physician Jane Forester has some information.
Jane Forester, D.O.

Your question
How is preeclampsia treated? - Courtney in Newport Beach, California

The expert answers

The management of preeclampsia typically begins when excessive fluid retention and rapid weight gain occurs. The physician takes a dietary history, looking for excessive salt intake; the patient will be switched to a less- or no-added-salt diet while being restricted to 48 hours of bedrest, except for meals and bathroom use. After the 48 hours, the patient is reevaluated to determine if weight loss occurred and if blood pressure continues to be normal. In the case of successful treatment, no further intervention is necessary. If there is no weight loss, the physician will increase the frequency of prenatal visits and the period of bedrest.

Treatment is similar for increased blood pressure without proteinuria - with more frequent followup visits and bed rest. If this treatment fails, sometimes the patient with hypertension and edema is hospitalized to ensure bedrest. If the patient is greater than 36 gestational weeks, often an induction of labor is suggested.

However, prompt hospitalization for close monitoring and treatment is a certainty when proteinuria occurs with severe hypertension and edema. Normally, a patient will be put on a medication to lower blood pressure and put on complete bedrest; if the gestational age is favorable, doctors will deliver the baby, since that is the ultimate cure for preeclampsia.

My discussion would be incomplete without a mention of eclampsia. This is the above syndrome that has progressed into the addition of seizures. These seizures may be life threatening. To avoid this, the physician will put a severely preeclamptic patient on anti-seizure medicine and monitor certain blood levels to avoid the risk of seizures.

All of these situations may sound frightening to a newly pregnant woman; however, the medical community has a very heightened awareness of these syndromes and will react very quickly to any red flags that develop. Therefore, complications that used to occur years ago are now very rare, more a historic teaching point among the medical community than common occurrence.

Jane Forester
Family Physician
Glencoe, IllinoisPregnancyAndBaby.com

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