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Toxemia in pregnancy is also known as preeclampsia, which is pregnancy-induced hypertension. It is a serious medical condition that can be life threatening for both mother and the baby if left untreated. Toxemia usually affects women after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The cause for toxemia hasn’t been discovered yet, but some experts suggest it may be related to autoimmune diseases, genetic factors and problems with blood vessels.

Symptoms of Toxemia in PregnancyBecause of serious complications preeclampisia may cause, it is important to learn how to recognize symptoms of the condition to get a proper treatment. Some pregnant women don’t experience any symptoms of toxemia but the signs can warn that the condition is present.


Common symptom of toxemia is bloating of the hands, feet and face. This is due to fluid retention. This sudden swelling is one of the first signs of toxemia although some women may experience edema without suffering from toxemia.

Sudden Weight Gain

Sudden swelling can result in sudden weight gain. Warning sign of toxemia is a weight gain of more than two pounds per week.

Vision ProblemsThe symptom that usually accompanies toxemia is blurred vision, double vision or even temporary loss of vision. Any changes in eyesight in pregnant women can indicate swelling in the brain, which is a symptom of toxemia.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, which can be over 140/90, always indicates preeclampsia. However, some women may not be aware of this because high blood pressure does not cause any symptoms. That is way pregnant women need to check their blood pressure regularly.

Abdominal Pain

Women with severe preeclampsia may experience intense pain in their upper abdomen. Warning sign is particularly pain on the right side of the upper abdomen, under the ribcage. Sometimes, this pain can extend toward the shoulder.

Urinary ChangesAnother common symptom of preeclampsia is presence of protein in the urine. This is known as proteinuria and can be confirmed in a urine test. This will usually manifest in reduced urine output and alterations in the color of the urine, which can be dark or reddish.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Toxemia

It is vital to identify presence of toxemia as soon as possible to prevent further complications and damages to the baby and mother. Pregnant women have to regularly do a urine test that shows level of protein in the urine. Proteinuria is characterized by more than 300mg of protein in 24 hour urine collection. When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with toxemia, she will have to take hypertensive drugs to decrease blood pressure. Also, to reduce the blood pressure as well as swelling, a woman will have to be lying on her left side. Diet must be low in sodium to reduce fluid retention. Unfortunately, there is no cure toxemia except for delivery of the baby as soon as it can survive outside the womb, which is after 34 gestation weeks.

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