Mother Care - Dr Asha Rajadhyaksha-->

What is eclampsia?

Eclampsia is a severe complication of preeclampsia. It’s a rare but serious condition where high blood pressure results in seizures during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of eclampsia?

Because preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, you may have symptoms of both conditions. However, some of your symptoms may be due to other conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes. It’s important to tell your doctor about any conditions you have so they may rule out other possible causes.

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The following are common symptoms of preeclampsia:
  • elevated blood pressure

  • swelling in your face or hands

  • headaches

  • excessive weight gain

  • nausea and vomiting

  • vision problems, including episodes with loss of vision or blurry vision

  • difficulty urinating

  • abdominal pain, especially in the right upper abdomen

  • Patients with eclampsia can have the same symptoms as those noted above, or may even present with no symptoms prior to the onset of eclampsia. The following are common symptoms of eclampsia:
  • seizures

  • loss of consciousness

  • agitation

What causes eclampsia?

Eclampsia often follows preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure occurring in pregnancy and, rarely, postpartum. Other findings may also be present such as protein in the urine. If your preeclampsia worsens and affects your brain, causing seizures, you have developed eclampsia.

Doctors don’t know for sure what causes preeclampsia, but it’s thought to result from abnormal formation and function of the placenta. They can explain how the symptoms of preeclampsia may lead to eclampsia.

High blood pressure

Preeclampsia is when your blood pressure, or the force of blood against the walls of your arteries, becomes high enough to damage your arteries and other blood vessels. Damage to your arteries may restrict blood flow. It can produce swelling in the blood vessels in your brain and to your growing baby. If this abnormal blood flow through vessels interferes with your brain’s ability to function, seizures may occur.


Preeclampsia commonly affects kidney function. Protein in your urine, also known as proteinuria, is a common sign of the condition. Each time you have a doctor’s appointment, your urine may be tested for protein. Typically, your kidneys filter waste from your blood and create urine from these wastes. However, the kidneys try to retain nutrients in the blood, such as protein, for redistribution to your body. If the kidneys’ filters, called glomeruli, are damaged, protein can leak through them and excrete into your urine.

What are the treatments for eclampsia?

Delivering your baby and placenta are the recommended treatment for preeclampsia and eclampsia. Your doctor will consider the severity of the disease and how mature your baby is when recommending timing of delivery. If your doctor diagnoses you with mild preeclampsia, they may monitor your condition and treat you with medication to prevent it from turning into eclampsia. Medications and monitoring will help keep your blood pressure within a safer range until the baby is mature enough to deliver.

If you do develop severe preeclampsia or eclampsia, your doctor may deliver your baby early. Your care plan will depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy and the severity of your disease. You will need to be hospitalized for monitoring until you deliver your baby.


Medications to prevent seizures, called anticonvulsants drugs, may be necessary. You may need medication to lower blood pressure if you have high blood pressure. You may also receive steroids, which can help your baby’s lungs mature prior to delivery.