Toxemia in Pregnancy

Medically speaking, Toxemia is pregnancy induced hypertension.  Roughly 7% of pregnant women will develop at least mild Toxemia.  Severe toxemia, however, can cause many health problems.  Serious Toxemia may develop into something called pre-eclampsia, which can then lead to eclampsia, followed by a serious complication called the HELLP Syndrome.

Toxemia starts to develop as the placenta begins to develop.  Toxemia is most likely to occur during first-time pregnancy.  The causes of Toxemia are not known, and it is not possible to screen for Toxemia prior to pregnancy.  The symptoms of toxemia are elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, and hyper-reflexia (extremely fast reflex responses.)  Other symptoms may include bloating of the hands, feet and face due to fluid retention.  These symptoms warn of worse to come if they are not heeded.

There are several treatments that may be used for Toxemia.  The most basic and often the most effective is rest.  Your doctor may put you on bed rest and monitor the baby and your Toxemia symptoms.  Should your symptoms worsen and develop into preeclampsia, you may experience headache, gastric pain and even seizures.  When you seize your baby’s oxygen supply is cut off.  The high blood pressure and seizures can also cause the placenta to tear away from the uterine wall.  Magnesium Sulfate is given to calm down the hyper-reflexia to reduce the risk of seizures. 

Some of the health problems associated with Toxemia can be very dangerous to the mother and the child. Besides, high blood pressure there are other things that can go wrong with your health. Toxemia can create liver and kidney damage or failure. It can cause problems with your eyesight. If left untreated for too long, it can cause the patient to go into convulsions. These convulsions can lead to coma and even death.  Your physician may recommend mild doses of high blood pressure medicine to reduce these risks.

Discuss any symptoms you may think are related to Toxemia immediately with your physician.  With proper care, Toxemia can be controlled and does not have to seriously impact your pregnancy or your baby.



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