What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Causes, signs, and remedies
Pregnancy is full of surprises, especially if you experience it for the first time. Hormonal changes, constipation, food cravings, heartburn, back pain, are some of the changes you experience during pregnancy. Many pregnant women also experience nausea or morning sickness. Although the condition is harmless, it is quite uncomfortable for some pregnant women.
Nausea and vomiting are common conditions in pregnancy that affect up to 85% of women. Hyperemesis Gravidarum affects 0.3% to 2.3% pregnant women, and these women also suffer from hypokalemia, hyponatremia, and a low serum urea level. Research studies have highlighted that 1-5% of all pregnant women are hospitalized for treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a persistent or extreme level of morning sickness during pregnancy, a condition characterized by severe nausea and vomiting. There are several differences between morning sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Every pregnant woman experience different side and complications of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Morning sickness is characterized by mild nausea, which is occasionally accompanied by vomiting. Although morning sickness’ symptoms go away within 12 days, it can cause severe dehydration and affect you and the growing fetus. Research shows that morning sickness can cause fatigue and loss of appetite during pregnancy, so you may find it difficult to perform usual daily activities.
On the other hand, Hyperemesis Gravidarum has severe symptoms that do not go away within 12 or 14 weeks. A pregnant woman usually experiences the signs and symptoms within the first six weeks of pregnancy. The condition causes poor weight gain and dehydration during pregnancy. According to the HER Foundation, pregnant women can also have severe vomiting with a complete loss of appetite.
Causes of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Most pregnant women experience a mild form of morning sickness during the first three months. Researchers say that there is no known cause of morning sickness during pregnancy.
However, many believe that severe nausea and vomiting is caused by elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Placenta releases the HCG hormone in the blood that leads to mild or severe morning sickness depending on its blood levels.
Pregnant women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum have severe nausea and vomiting, leading to loss of appetite and loss of weight, which is about 5% of the total body weight.
Although many pregnant women can experience Hyperemesis Gravidarum, it is more common in women with twins or more babies. It also occurs in pregnant women who have a hydatidiform mole, a condition characterized by an abnormally fertilized egg or tissue overgrowth in the placenta. Besides nausea and vomiting, you may also experience high blood pressure and vaginal bleeding.
Common Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
There are several symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, but the most common ones are electrolyte imbalances, weight loss, and dehydration. Unlike morning sickness that causes the woman to experience mild nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe and persistent form of morning sickness. A pregnant woman may also experience:
- Constant nausea
- Complete loss of appetite
- Vomiting more than 4-5 times a day
- Extreme dehydration characterized by dry skin and dry urine
- Sleep disturbance
- Excessive salivation (ptyalism)
- Dizziness, light-headedness, and fatigue
- Stress, depression, or anxiety
- Extreme weight loss – i.e. 10-15 pounds due to severe nausea
Some risk factors associated with Hyperemesis Gravidarum are the history of the condition in your family, overweight/obesity, first pregnancy, and pregnant with twins or more babies. Hyperemesis Gravidarum is also caused by trophoblastic diseases, which causes abnormal cell growth inside the uterus.
Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
There are several ways to treat Hyperemesis Gravidarum, such as:
Dietary Changes: Modify the size and amount of meals to relieve the symptoms. You can have smaller amounts of fluids more often to prevent nausea and vomiting. Replace fat-rich and acidic foods with carbohydrates-based diet. Health professionals recommend beans, nuts, and dairy products. Electrolyte-rich drinks are also recommended.
Intravenous Fluids: The lost intravascular volume is usually replenished by providing intravenous (IV) fluids. Research shows that rehydration with electrolytes is useful in the treatment of Hyperemesis. Doctors provide saline, Hartmann solution, and potassium chloride intravenously to pregnant women with Hyperemesis.
Thiamine: Health professionals prescribe thiamine to pregnant women with protracted vomiting. It is a routine supplement for pregnant women with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It is crucial to know that pregnant women must not ingest thiamine more than 1.5 mg per day. Some doctors dilute 100 mg of thiamine in 100 mL of normal saline and then infuse it for 30 minutes weekly. However, it becomes necessary when a pregnant woman can’ take thiamine orally.
Antiemetics: These contain several drugs to control nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms during pregnancy. Doctors suggest that a pregnant woman should not use Antiemetics before 12 to 14 weeks of gestation. Otherwise, these drugs can cause adverse effects on the growing baby. Other treatment options include:
- Nasogastric Enteral Feeding
- Total Parenteral Nutrition
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a pregnancy complication that affects different areas of women’s health, such as electrolytes, homeostasis, kidney function, and cause other fetal complications. Severe nausea, vomiting, extreme weight loss, and dehydration are some of the symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. The condition can be treated with conservative treatment options and homemade remedies.