When you're pregnant, you might wonder why your obstetrician checks your blood pressure and asks for a urine sample at each visit. You might also wonder if swelling in your feet and ankles is normal. The answers to both questions have roots in a pregnancy condition called preeclampsia.
Historically known as toxemia, preeclampsia is characterized by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy, which is why your doctor checks your levels. While swelling of your feet and ankles is commonly seen in preeclampsia, it is not necessary for the diagnosis and is often seen in normal pregnancies as well.
Many of the signs of preeclampsia such as headaches, abdominal pain and swelling are also common symptoms of normal, unaffected pregnancies.
However, when water retention goes beyond the feet and also affects the hands and face, preeclampsia as the cause should be considered and ruled out. With its often sudden onset, potential rapid progression and possible severe consequences for both the mother and her unborn child, preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition that needs to be taken very seriously.
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