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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

5 min read

Most of the hurdles during pregnancy are due to the health issues that takes place amid the pregnancy. Some of the issues can affect the mother’s health very badly while some others will affect the health of the baby adversely. One of the pregnancy complications which can lead to several perilous affairs, if ignored, is hyperemesis gravidarum.
Pregnant woman feeling sick

What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition signified by extreme and intractable nausea and throwing up during pregnancy. Excessive vomiting during pregnancy is not common and affects 1% of moms-to-be. With hyperemesis gravidarum, you will find it difficult to eat or drink anything, even if it is very little. HG strikes in early pregnancy at about week 4 and usually goes away once you hit 20 weeks, though for some women it may last for the entire pregnancy.

How Can I Distinguish Hyperemesis Gravidarum From Normal Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum are not at all similar. Complications and side effects are entirely different in both cases. Differentiating these two conditions are significant for the proper treatment.
The following chart will help you to tell apart the hyperemesis gravidarum from morning sickness.

Difference Between Hyperemesis Gravidarum And Morning Sickness
Hyperemesis GravidarumMorning Sickness
Nausea always comes with severe vomiting.Nausea is not necessarily accompanied with vomiting
Results in significant weight loss.Only negligible weight loss or no weight loss.
Usually begins within first 12 weeks of gestation.Typically begins at early weeks of the first month of gestation.
The vomiting and nausea persist for a long time.Usually vanishes by the end of the first trimester.
The mother to be will be too tired. She will need help for caring for herself. She will be incapable of doing work for weeks or even months.The mother will be able to take care of herself and will be able to do work on most days.
Vomiting leads to severe dehydration.Vomiting does not cause severe dehydration.
Usually, gets better towards the mid pregnancy but you may continue to be queasy or throw up till late pregnancy.Typically shows gradual development from the end of the first trimester.
Probably intravenous fluid hydration or medicines to stop the vomiting is required.Changes in the diet or in the way of life will help the mother to feel better.
Vomiting that does not allow to drink or eat any food, severe food aversions.Nausea or vomiting will allow eating food(even though may not able to enjoy the smell and taste of all food enjoyed before pregnancy)
Vomiting will be more often. You may start to vomit bile and blood if not proper treatment is not taken.Vomiting is infrequent. Nausea will be partial.

What Pregnancy Complications Can Arise Due To Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

The impact of the complications of hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy depends on its severity. Severe and uncontrollable vomiting can lead to:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Severe dehydration
  • Decreased urination which can cause urinary tract infection
  • Constant vomiting can cause bleeding in the esophagus
  • The psychological effect of hyperemesis gravidarum is that it may cause anxiety and depression which may continue even after delivery

What Causes Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

The causes of hyperemesis gravidarum are still unknown. Most of the studies blame the rise in the hormone levels for hyperemesis gravidarum. The hormone that is mostly believed to cause hyperemesis gravidarum is human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is discharged from the placenta during pregnancy. Among the women with hyperemesis gravidarum, the level of HCG is found to double in every two to three days. When the level of this hormone rises at this rate rapidly during the pregnancy, surely the outcome will be uncontrollable nausea and vomit (severity also increases).
Woman nausea

Am I At A Risk For Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

There are some factors which increase the chances of hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Women with trophoblastic disease (abnormal growth of cells inside the uterus) are found to be more prone to hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Hydatidiform mole: It is a rare growth found during the beginning of pregnancy inside the womb. It is a kind of gestational trophoblastic disease
  • Women bearing multiple pregnancies
  • Obesity or overweight of the mother during pregnancy
  • If the woman already has a history of hyperemesis gravidarum, or it runs in the maternal family
  • A history of travel sickness and migraines can also trigger HG during pregnancy
  • You are expecting a girl child and this is your first baby

What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

The signs of hyperemesis gravidarum are:

  • Severe and uncontrollable nausea (nearly constant) and vomiting during pregnancy
  • Decline in the urinating frequency and quantity
  • Aversion towards food and resulting in considerable pregnancy weight loss
  • Feeling dizzy and very weak
  • Low blood pressure and salivating more than normal
  • Losing the elasticity of the skin
  • Fainting, headaches and a rapid heart rate
  • Feeling depressed, confused and stressed all the time

How Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum Diagnosed?

When you complain about theextreme tiredness, vomiting more frequently and queasiness, your doctor will look for abnormally low blood pressure and fast heart rate, the common signs of hyperemesis gravidarum. The blood and urine test reveals the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), signs of dehydration etc. An ultrasound can reveal if there is a mass in the womb due to trophoblastic disease.

How Can Hyperemesis Gravidarum Be Treated?

As in the case of most of the health conditions, hyperemesis gravidarum is treated according to the severity of the symptoms. The medical treatment includes:

  • In the severe case of dehydration, the major after-effect of hyperemesis gravidarum, the patient is admitted to the hospital and fluids are induced through the IV. This will ensure the optimum level of electrolytes, nutrients,and hydration
  • As the patient is unable to take the food, it is easy for the baby and mother to get affected fast, as both can deprive of the essential nutrition. So after admitting to the hospital, extra nutrients are induced either through the IV or in most severe cases through a tube placed on the stomach
  • Anti-nausea medicines are prescribed in some cases and are generally they are induced through the IV as excessive vomiting can be harmful to mother or child or both

What Measures Can Be Taken At Home To Reduce The Symptoms Of Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Along with medical treatment, or if, the symptoms are moderate, some measures can be taken at home which aid in treating hyperemesis gravidarum.

  • Avoid the triggers: If you notice certain things triggers nausea and vomiting, avoid those things at any cost. Some of the factors that generally found triggering nausea and vomiting are:
    • Smells: All the strong smells, especially, the smell of certain perfumes, tooth paste, bathing items, grooming items are found to trigger vomiting and nausea
    • Tight fitting cloths: Tight fitting cloths can apply pressure on the stomach which can trigger vomiting and nausea
    • Riding in a vehicle: A car ride can trigger the sensation of vomiting and nausea (motion sickness)
  • Drink and eat generously: Take the upper hand of the situations you feel less nauseous to eat well and drink well. It is better to take frequently small portions of the meal. Try ginger ale or other drinks that appeal to you plenty to stay well hydrated whenever you feel better

Will Hyperemesis Gravidarum Harm My Baby?

Not really. HG can make you feel sore, tired, exhausted and depressed but it is unlikely to affect your baby’s development in any way. Do not worry too much on having a balanced diet as you baby will take up the necessary nutrition from your body reserves. You can then catch up on nutrition later. Mostly, when treated properly HG does not impact the baby, but if left untreated, there is a chance that your baby will be smaller than average at birth. This is however, quite rare.

Are The Medications Of Nausea And Vomiting Safe During Pregnancy?

It is true that taking medicines during pregnancy can cause mild to severe health problems for the child in the womb. But maternal dehydration is the more significant problem and when your doctor weighs the benefits and risk of the medicines and suggest to take the medicines, go ahead with your doctor’s decision. Anti-sickness medicines are generally safe and have long been prescribed without any harmful effects to the baby.

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