What is Eclampsia?

What is Eclampsia?

In this blog we will answer the question, ‘what is eclampsia?’ and look into its causes, symptoms and treatment.

What is Eclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a complication of the pregnancy that is brought on by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system.

These are most often the liver and kidneys.

Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.

If preeclampsia goes untreated, then it may prove fatal for both mother and the baby.

The most effective treatment for this condition is delivery of the baby. Even after delivering the baby, it can still take a while for the mother to get better.

Rarely, preeclampsia develops after delivery of a baby, but if it does, then the condition is called postpartum preeclampsia.

What is eclampsia?

Eclampsia is a rare and serious condition in which seizures occur during pregnancy.

Eclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and is followed by preeclampsia.

Seizures are a heightened and disturbed brain activity that is manifested through violent shaking of the body, staring into space, loss of consciousness in some, convulsions and decreased activity. 

 What are the symptoms of Eclampsia?

The common symptoms of preeclampsia are:

  • high blood pressure
  • swelling face or hands
  • headaches
  • excessive weight gain
  • nausea 
  • vomiting
  • loss of vision
  • blurry vision
  • difficulty urinating
  • abdominal pain, especially in the right upper abdomen

The following are common symptoms of eclampsia:

  • Seizures
  • agitation
  • loss of consciousness
What is Eclampsia?

What are the causes of Eclampsia?

The causes of Eclampsia are high blood pressure and traces of protein in the urine. It can also be caused by kidney disease or diabetes.

In the worst condition of preeclampsia, seizures may occur.

The known cause of preeclampsia is not very vivid, but doctors contribute to the etiology by determining that a problem or abnormality of the placenta may cause this condition.

What is Eclampsia?
  1. High Blood Pressure

Patients who suffer from high blood pressure may develop preeclampsia.

The blood pressure is high when the flow of the blood is elevated to damage the arteries and other blood vessels.

Seizures occur when the brain’s normal functioning is disrupted due to this abnormal flow of the blood.

  1. proteinuria

When there is an abundance of protein in the urine, preeclampsia may occur.  This condition is called proteinuria.

The kidneys are affected by preeclampsia and allow the protein to filter through them into the urine. 

Effect of Eclampsia on the baby

The placenta is affected by the conditions of preeclampsia and eclampsia. Placenta is the organ that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the baby(fetus) from the mother’s blood.

The placenta may not be able to function to the fullest if the blood flow to it is restricted, thus lack of oxygen and nutrients may result in a still born baby or abnormal development.

The baby may also be born with a low birth weight.

How can Eclampsia be diagnosed?

Eclampsia may be diagnosed through the following

Blood Tests

The doctor would include the VComplete Blood Count(CBC), red blood cells count, platelets count, kidney and liver function tests along with the diagnostics to check time for blood clotting.

Urine Tests

This test will check the amount of protein in the urine.

Creatinine Tests

Creatinine should be excreted by the kidneys and if it does not then it might cause Preeclampsia. Creatinine is a waste product produced by the muscles.

What are the Risk Factors of Eclampsia?

People who are at risk during pregnancy include:

  • A person less than 20 years of age or over 35 years of age
  • More than a single fetus pregnancy(tins, triplets, quadruplets)
  • First pregnancy
  • Hypertension 
  • Diabetes 
  • Kidney disease 

How can Eclampsia be treated? 

Early Delivery

If the condition of Preeclampsia is diagnosed, the best option would be to deliver the baby earlier, but if the fetus has not yet developed for delivery and there are chances that medications might keep the symptoms at bay, then the baby can go till the extent that a safe delivery can take place.

Medications 

Anticonvulsant medicines for seizures can be prescribed and medicines to lower the blood pressure can be used if the blood pressure seems raised.

What is Eclampsia?

In this blog we have answered the question, ‘what is eclampsia?’ and looked into its causes, symptoms and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can eclampsia be treated?

Eclampsia can be treated by delivering the baby, treating raised blood pressure and preventing seizures.

How common is eclampsia?

Eclampsia is a rare condition that occurs only during pregnancy and causes seizures.

It  usually occurs late in the pregnancy. It is a rare condition that affects 1 in every 2,000-3,000 pregnancies every year.

What does protein in urine look like?

Protein in the urine seems frothy or bubbly, but still the only way to find out if the urine has traces of protein is to go for a urine test.

There may also be swelling on the hands and feet. 

What happens if eclampsia is not treated?

If eclampsia is left untreated then it may cause the death of the fetus/infant, brain damage, coma or paralysis due to raised blood pressure and clotting in the brain.

Titles to Read

  • A Simple Guide To Pre-eclampsia, (Pregnancy with Hypertension And Proteinuria) Diagnosis, Treatment And Related Conditions by Kenneth Kee 
  • Recurrent Miscarriage And Pre-eclampsia: The Roles Played By The Immune System And Antioxidants by Rhoda Wilson
  • Pre-eclampsia: Etiology and Clinical Practice (Cambridge Medicine (Hardcover))
  • by Fiona Lyall and Michael Belfort

Citations

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/eclampsia#treatment
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preeclampsia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355745

What is Eclampsia?

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.