Pregnancy can be a perplexing experience. Your body is through many changes, and it can be difficult to know what is normal and what is a warning flag. Knowing the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy can help you spot a problem early and get the best possible treatment. Preeclampsia has several symptoms that can be measured but may not be visible to you, such as elevated blood pressure. A symptom is anything you could notice or experience, such as a headache or visual loss.
One of the most telling signs that preeclampsia is on the way is high blood pressure during pregnancy. Even if it isn’t a symptom of preeclampsia, it can be an indication that something is wrong.
Blood pressure of 140/90 or more, measured on two different occasions at least four hours apart, is considered high blood pressure. An increase of 15 degrees or more in the lower number (diastolic) or a rise of 30 degrees or more in the upper number (systolic) during pregnancy can also be cause for concern.
Proteinuria is a symptom of preeclampsia that occurs when proteins that are ordinarily contained in the blood by your kidney’s filtration function leak into your urine. This is because preeclampsia affects this “filter” momentarily. This causes albumin, as well as many other proteins, to be depleted.
Proteinuria can be detected with a simple dipstick test of your urine at each prenatal check-up, while alternative procedures, such as a Protein: Creatinine Ratio (PCR) or a timed urine collection, may be utilized in clinics and medical offices.
During pregnancy, a certain amount of swelling is to be expected. You may notice a little additional puffiness in your feet (good luck fitting into your pre-pregnancy shoes!). Unless you’re one of the lucky few, you may notice a little extra puffiness in your feet. Edema, on the other hand, is the buildup of excess fluid in the body and can be dangerous if it happens in the face, around the eyes, or in the hands.
Headaches that are dull or strong, throbbing, and persistent, commonly described as migraine-like, are cause for concern.
If you’ve tried over-the-counter medications and still haven’t gotten relief, if the headache is excruciatingly painful, if you have light sensitivity, or if your headache is accompanied by vision changes (please see the section below on “Changes in Vision”), call your provider right away and make an appointment to see him or her that day.
5. VOMITING OR NAUSEA
Nausea or vomiting is especially concerning when it occurs suddenly and in the middle of pregnancy. Morning sickness should go away after the first trimester, and the abrupt onset of nausea and vomiting after the second trimester could be a sign of preeclampsia
6. PAIN IN THE ABDOMINAL AND/OR SHOULDER
This sort of abdominal pain, also known as epigastric pain or upper right quadrant (URQ) pain, usually occurs on the right side, beneath the ribs. Heartburn, gallbladder problems, the flu, indigestion, or pain from the baby kicking can all be confused with it. Because it radiates from the liver under the right ribs, shoulder discomfort is commonly referred to as “referred pain.” Lower back pain differs from an ordinary pregnancy muscle strain in that it is frequently more intense and specific. Shoulder discomfort can make you feel as though someone is pinching you along your bra strap or around your neck, or it can make lying on your right side difficult. All of these pain symptoms could indicate HELLP Syndrome or a related liver condition.
7. PAIN IN THE LOWER BACK
Lower back pain is a typical pregnancy problem. However, if it occurs in conjunction with other preeclampsia symptoms, it could signal a liver problem.
8. SUDDEN WEIGHT GAIN
Preeclampsia can be detected by gaining more than 3-5 pounds in a week. More water leaks into and stays in your body’s tissue as a result of damaged blood vessels, rather than passing via the kidneys to be eliminated.
9. VISION CHANGES
One of the most dangerous symptoms of preeclampsia is vision abnormalities. They could be the result of irritation to the central nervous system or a sign of brain enlargement (cerebral edema). Flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity, hazy vision, and spots are all common visual abnormalities.
If you notice any of these changes in your eyesight, contact your healthcare physician or go to the hospital every once. These are really dangerous symptoms that should not be ignored, even if it means waiting until the next day.
When your reflexes are so strong that a rubber “hammer” taps your knee, your leg bounces back hard. This is known as hyperreflexia. An overreaction of the involuntary nervous system to stimuli is the most common cause of hyperreflexia. Many women’s deep tendon reflexes increase before they have seizures, but seizures can also happen without hyperreflexia.
This is an indication that is usually measured by a healthcare expert and is difficult to detect on your own. Hyperreflexia, like headaches and vision problems, might signal nervous system abnormalities. If your healthcare practitioner is worried, he or she will tell you whether this, combined with other signs and symptoms, indicates that you should go to the hospital.
If you’re using magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures, your healthcare provider may test your reflexes to see if you need to start, change, or stop taking the medication. An excessive amount of magnesium sulfate might suppress or impair your reflexes.
11. ANXIETY AND SHORTNESS OF BREATH
Preeclampsia can cause shortness of breath, a racing pulse, mental disorientation, a heightened sensation of worry, and a sense of impending doom. If you’re experiencing these symptoms for the first time, they could signal high blood pressure or, more rarely, fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema).
If these symptoms are new to you, see your doctor right away. If you had any of these conditions prior to being pregnant, make sure to tell your doctor about them at your next appointment so they can be checked.