What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum is also called as “morning sickness during pregnancy”. A highly uncomfortable condition faced by women who are in the beginning stages of their pregnancy (in their 1st trimester). The condition goes away on its own in about 2 or 3 months. Feeling nauseated and vomiting during pregnancy is common but the hyperemesis gravidarum actually refers to an extreme condition of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum, though refer to the same condition, there are some differences to note. Morning sickness refers to the nausea and vomiting that starts typically during the first month of pregnancy and lasts for 2 or 3 months and goes away on its own. Morning sickness in pregnant women causes weakness and little loss of appetite which may affect their daily routine slightly.
Whereas hyperemesis gravidarum refers to an extreme condition of morning sickness where the nausea doesn’t go away and severe vomiting can lead to dehydration. Any food or drink that is consumed is typically thrown up. This leads to extreme weakness and complete loss of appetite affecting the daily routines of the woman very badly.
Causes of hyperemesis gravidarum
Morning sickness is a very common condition faced by every pregnant woman. Note that morning sickness doesn’t necessarily happen in the morning and can be at any time during the day. The condition of morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum is caused by the rapid increase in production of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) hormone by the placenta that develops during pregnancy and estrogen hormone.
Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum
- Feeling nauseated almost all the time that will kill the appetite completely.
- Vomiting more than 4 times in a day that can lead to dehydration
- Extreme fatigue and dizziness
- Losing body weight.
Diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum
Most often a list of questions and physical exam is enough to determine if a woman is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. Unusually low blood pressure and weak pulse are confirming signs of HG. Blood and urine samples may be taken to test for signs of dehydration. (typically, experienced doctors can tell if a person is dehydrated by pinching the skin).
If the doctor or gynecologist suspect any gastrointestinal problems, appropriate tests may be required. Ultrasound test may be done to check if the woman is pregnant with twins. Carrying twin babies poses a risk of extreme morning sickness.
Treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum
- Medicines to prevent the feeling of nausea and stop vomiting may be given along with vitamin tablets.
- Drinking lots of liquids (such as fruit juices, water etc) to prevent dehydration will be advised.
- Having small portion of meals more frequently than few large meals through the day.
- In extreme cases of dehydration, hospitalization may be required during which IV will be given to compensate the loss of water in the body.
Do’s and Don’ts to prevent extreme morning sickness
- Drink plenty of fluids (water mixed with glucose, coconut water, fruit juices, buttermilk along with water)
- Eat small meals throughout the day.
- Take walk in nature to breath fresh air
- Ginger tea can help in reducing the symptoms of morning sickness
- Use vitamin supplements as advised by your doctor
- Floss your mouth regularly to keep your teeth in good condition. (Frequent vomiting can make your mouth and teeth dirty).
- Avoid large meals
- Stop consuming junk and fatty foods
- Don’t sleep or lie down immediately after having food
- Avoid spicy and strong smelling foods.