Eclampsia is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs in late pregnancy where high blood pressure can lead to seizures.
It is also known as toxemia with seizures. It can also lead to coma and even death of the baby as well as the mother during or after pregnancy.
It is found that eclampsia occurs in approximately one out of every sixteen hundred pregnancies and mostly occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy.
It is the final and severe stage of pre-eclampsia.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that occurs during pregnancy where hypertension with high levels of protein in the urine causes swelling in the feet, hands and legs. When pre-eclampsia is left untreated, it leads to eclampsia.
The exact cause of eclampsia is unknown. However, recent researches believe genes, poor nutrition, body fat, and lack of sufficient blood supply to the uterus as the causes for this condition.
Eclampsia can occur at any stage during the second trimester of pregnancy. In some cases, it can take place before twenty weeks of your pregnancy.
The hypertension that occurs before twenty weeks conception is known as chronic hypertension whereas the hypertension that occurs after twenty weeks of pregnancy is known as pregnancy-induced hypertension. Five to eight percent of all pregnancies develop this condition.
You may get this condition if you are first time pregnant or pregnant after forty years. It also occurs if you have high blood pressure before pregnancy, over weight before pregnancy, a history of pre-eclampsia, diabetes [Gestational diabetes], kidney disease, or rheumatoid arthritis, or carrying multiple babies.
Seizure is the first sign indicating the occurrence of eclampsia. You with eclampsia experiences severe agitation, coma or unconsciousness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, irregular urination, abdominal pain, sudden weight gain, muscle pains, blurred vision, shortness of breathe, swelling and lack of concentration.
Right away inform your gynecologist about your condition whenever you come across any of these signs. Your health care provider will evaluate the condition by performing a physical exam. Your blood pressure and breathing rate will be checked and observed.
You may be recommended to perform a blood test to check uric acid, kidney functioning, liver functioning, and platelet count. Urine tests are conducted to check for protein, which indicates your chances of developing eclampsia.
With eclampsia, you should have regular checkups in order to assess your condition of the pregnancy. The birth of the baby or delivery is the treatment for eclampsia if your pregnancy is above 28 weeks.
Your health care professional may recommend complete bed rest, medications to extend the pregnancy and to increase your baby’s chances of survival during pregnancy.
However, if it is below 28 weeks, the labor may be induced although the chance of surviving the baby is very less.
There are other treatment options to decrease the blood pressure. Anticonvulsants (diazepam and phenytoin) are the medications that help control eclampsia and avoid the occurrence of further seizures.
An injection of magnesium sulphate is other safest anticonvulsants that are given to reduce the risk of developing eclampsia.