Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Severe Morning Sickness
Hyperemesis gravidarum, or excessive vomiting, is an uncommon and unpleasant condition that can occur during pregnancy. It’s rare enough that it has an incidence of only 3% of all reported pregnancies. It is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting that can cause dehydration and weight loss.
The best way to describe hyperemesis gravidarum (“excessive vomiting”) is that it is an extreme version of morning sickness. Morning sickness is a term for nausea that the result of surging pregnancy hormones is a classic sign of pregnancy that typically starts at around 4 to 6 weeks of gestation. Most women report that their morning sickness tapers by the time they are 20 weeks along.
With hyperemesis gravidarum, the nausea and vomiting will start early in the first trimester, much like morning sickness. However, these symptoms usually reach a reported peak of 9 to 13 weeks and then can persist throughout the pregnancy, instead of tapering off in the second trimester.
What sets this condition apart from morning sickness is that there is severe and constant vomiting throughout the day. Food and drink cannot be kept down long enough for the body to absorb. This deficit is what causes the severe dehydration and weight loss associated with hyperemesis gravidarum.
Good question, but there is no certain answer to what the cause for hyperemesis gravidarum is. Medical experts suspect it’s related to the surge of hormone levels.
If a woman has this condition during her first pregnancy, she has an increased chance of experiencing it during any subsequent pregnancies. There is no known way to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum, however, starting prenatal vitamins prior to getting pregnant can help mitigate the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Because of the intense vomiting of hyperemesis gravidarum, there are potential complications to look for.
Most of the complications from hyperemesis gravidarum will be a concern for the mother, rather than the child she carries. But a medical professional should closely supervise the pregnancy as it progresses to monitor the health of both. Sometimes hospitalization is required to get the vomiting under better control.
Treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum will depend on the severity of nausea and vomiting and whether or not prescription medications are helping. Lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms as well.
Some of the lifestyle changes a doctor may recommend are:
These vitamins and medications may offer some relief for hyperemesis gravidarum. Always consult with a medical professional before taking any over-the-counter products.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is usually a temporary condition and its symptoms will completely subside with the baby’s birth. Some women may experience symptoms for only a short time during pregnancy, while others may experience symptoms for a much longer duration.
At Women’s Healthcare Associates we have a goal to provide you with one of the best experiences in women’s care in the greater Amarillo area. Our professional Staff offers personal care that focuses on the health and well-being of our patients as individuals. Our Services include comprehensive healthcare specialized just for women, prenatal and pregnancy care, digital mammography, bone density screening, ultrasound, contraception, menopause and more. For more information about how our comprehensive women’s healthcare can help you, please give us a call at (806) 355-6330.
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