Toxemia in pregnancy is a condition of hypertension that is induced during pregnancy. It is necessary to identify the initial signs of this disorder and treat it, lest it turns harmful for both, the mother and child.
Toxemia during pregnancy, also known as pre-eclampsia is a rare pregnancy related condition where hypertension is induced during the onset of pregnancy. Roughly around 7 to 8 percent of pregnant women develop toxemia in pregnancy that may be mild or severe in nature. This condition develops mostly after 20 weeks of gestation.
Severe toxemia can lead to pre-eclampsia, which may lead to eclampsia, and later can turn into a serious complication known as the HELLP syndrome, (HELLP is the abbreviated form of the findings; Hemolytic anemia, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count). Toxemia can occur+ when the placenta starts developing. This condition is mostly seen in women who are in their first pregnancies or are carrying multiple babies. Teenage mothers and women who conceive after the age of 40 are also prone to toxemia during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Toxemia
Pre-eclampsia can be of two types: mild toxemia and severe toxemia. Both the forms of this disorder can give rise to unnecessary complications, which may harm the mother and child. It is necessary to keep track of any changes in the body. so that the presence of any health issue can be detected in the initial stages. The presence of toxemia can be detected by noticing the following symptoms.
Mild Toxemia Symptoms
- Hyper-reflexia (extremely fast reflex responses)
- High levels of protein in the urine
- Persistent high blood pressure (exceeding 140/90)
- Unexplained and abnormal weight gain
- Swelling of the face, hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular bowel movements
Signs of Severe Toxemia
- Severe pain in the upper abdominal area
- Double or blurred vision
- Gastric pain
- Blood in urine during pregnancy
- Seizures and convulsions
- Fluid retention
- Sudden blindness
- Vomiting blood
- Nausea and giddiness followed by vomiting
- Extreme headache
- Mental disorientation and hallucinations
- Persistent and excessive acid reflux
How to Prevent Toxemia During Pregnancy
The exact cause of toxemia is still unknown, so there are no conclusive ways to prevent it. Some factors like diet control and exercise can help combat the symptoms of toxemia. Here are some preventive measures of toxemia by which you can stay healthy during pregnancy and keep a check of your blood pressure.
- Avoid eating junk and fried foods
- Hydrate the body by drinking 7 to 8 glasses of water per day
- Elevate your legs with the help of pillows while sleeping
- Do some light exercises daily
- Get adequate and proper rest
- Avoid stress and do meditation
- Limit the intake of caffeinated drinks
- Avoid alcoholic drinks
- Reduce the intake of salt in your diet
Diagnosis and Treatment of Toxemia
As toxemia has prospects of being a fatal disease and can also affect the growing fetus. It is important to detect this condition as soon as possible and find an alternative treatment for it. Toxemia, if left untreated, can lead to liver and kidney damage. Toxemia results in rupture of placenta, fetal growth impairment, maternal renal failure, pulmonary edema, preterm delivery, decreased uteroplacental perfusion, maternal stroke, precipitous delivery, and increased perinatal mortality or maternal convulsions. It can result in grave situations like coma and can even cause death.
The risks and complications during the delivery of the baby can be reduced by timely detection and proper treatment. Paying a regular visit to the gynecologist will enable you to detect the symptoms of toxemia, if any, on time. In order to confirm toxemia, the doctor may ask you to take a urine test, to detect the level of protein in the urine.
If you are diagnosed with toxemia the doctor will advice complete bed rest and prescribe mild hypertensive medicines and magnesium sulfate (to reduce seizures) as an option for treatment. Delivery of the baby is the only cure for toxemia. Induced delivery is recommended, after 34 weeks of pregnancy, if the doctor feels that the baby is strong enough to survive outside the womb.
Toxemia in pregnancy, whether mild or severe, is detrimental to the health of the mother and child as it restricts the blood flow to the placenta. This may rupture the placenta, causing seizures in the mother and may prove fatal to both, the mother and the baby. So if you doubt toxemia or notice any of the above-mentioned signs, visit your gynecologist or obstetrician as soon as possible.