Symptoms and Signs of Preeclampsia

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a dangerous pregnancy complication associated with high blood pressure, edema (swelling), and protein in the urine. Preeclampsia typically occurs some time after the 20th week of pregnancy, and less commonly, it can occur after giving birth. Risk factors for developing preeclampsia include being pregnant with multiples, maternal age over 35, history of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

The most common and sometimes the only symptom of preeclampsia is high blood pressure. Other symptoms of preeclampsia that affect the mother include protein in the urine, swelling (edema) of the legs, hands, or face, rapid weight gain over a few days (more than 2 pounds a week), blurred vision, seeing spots, severe headaches, convulsions, blindness (occasionally), pain in the upper part of the abdomen that may be confused with indigestion or gallbladder disease, and excessive bruising. Some changes from preeclampsia can affect the baby. Symptoms that result from problems with blood flow to the placenta include inadequate nutrition that causes the baby to not grow properly and be smaller than expected, or a baby that will appear sluggish or seem to have decreased activity.

Must Read Articles:


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.