Hyperemesis gravidarum is a medical condition where pregnant women experience severe nausea and excessive vomiting. This condition can lead to other health issues such as dehydration and weight loss.
In general, nausea and vomiting or morning sickness are natural things experienced by pregnant women. Normally, this condition will improve within 12 weeks.
However, some women experience more severe morning sickness than most other pregnant women. They tend to feel nauseous multiple times a day and are unable to swallow food or drink. Excessive nausea during pregnancy will affect your daily life. This particular condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum.
Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum begin in the first six weeks of pregnancy and may last for months. The symptoms period varies for each patient.
Women who have had hyperemesis gravidarum in their first pregnancy might have the potential to experience it again in the second pregnancy. The exact cause is still unknown, but doctors can help relieve the symptoms and prevent the condition from recurring.
Causes of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
In their early pregnancy phase, most pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting otherwise known as morning sickness. This is a normal condition and can happen throughout the day — not only in the morning.
Similar to morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum can occur due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. When pregnant, the embryo that develops in the uterus will produce a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). This hormone is believed to trigger morning sickness in pregnant women.
Symptoms of severe and constant morning sickness have the potential to become hyperemesis gravidarum. These hormonal changes occur because the body is trying to adjust to the fetus’ presence.
However, it is unknown why some women experience hyperemesis gravidarum, and other pregnant women only deal with regular morning sickness.
Several studies have found a potential genetic influence for this condition. If a parent of a pregnant woman has experienced hyperemesis gravidarum, then she also has the potential to experience the same thing.
In addition, hyperemesis gravidarum is more likely to be experienced by pregnant women who have had it in their first pregnancy.
When to See a Doctor for Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
The condition of hyperemesis gravidarum occurs to pregnant women. For this reason, a hyperemesis patient is recommended to consult with an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist.
Before making a diagnosis, the doctor will first conduct a medical interview, to find out the symptoms experienced and the medical history of the patient and her family.
Subsequently, the doctor will perform a series of general physical tests to look for symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum, such as a blood pressure test or pulse measurement. A racing pulse and low blood pressure are the characteristics of a person affected by hyperemesis gravidarum.
Additionally, the doctor may also need to perform blood and urine tests to provide a more accurate diagnosis. Urine and blood samples from the patient will then be tested in the laboratory. The results of this test will show whether the pregnant woman is dehydrated, which is another symptom of hyperemesis gravidarum.
In some cases, dehydration may also be a symptom of other conditions. Therefore, to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms, the doctor will perform a series of additional tests. These tests vary and will only be performed if the doctor is unable to confirm whether the patient has hyperemesis gravidarum. Among the tests performed is an ultrasound to observe the condition of the uterus of a pregnant woman.
Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
The symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum are more severe than the symptoms of regular morning sickness. Generally, symptoms are felt in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The most common symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum are:
- Low blood pressure.
- Loss of appetite.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Persistent nausea and vomiting that can occur three to four times a day.
- Severe dehydration, the patient may feel thirsty, tired, dizzy, rarely urinate, and have dark and strong-smelling urine.
Unlike morning sickness, symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum may not improve within 20 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms may also not completely go away until the baby is born.
However, there are some patients with hyperemesis gravidarum that feel less or lighter symptoms once they pass the 20th week of pregnancy.
Treatment for Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum varies, depending on the symptoms and the severity. Your doctor may recommend natural treatment methods to prevent nausea, for example consuming vitamin B6 or ginger.
Certain medications are also available for patients of hyperemesis gravidarum to safely consume during pregnancy, such as antiemetic drugs, vitamins B6 and B12, and steroid drugs.
Generally, doctors will recommend treatment such as:
- Prescribe consumable medicines for pregnant women to prevent nausea
- Suggest patients to consume 1 to 1.5 liters of ginger a day, combined with tea or supplements.
- Prescribe vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine
- Suggest lifestyle changes. Pregnant women will be asked to eat smaller amounts, yet more frequently than usual. When drinking, make it a habit to use a straw and consume more cold water.
When pregnant women deal with hyperemesis gravidarum, it is important to stay hydrated. Therefore, doctors will advise patients to drink more water.
Consuming large amounts of water at one time may trigger nausea. Therefore, it is recommended to drink water frequently in small amounts using a straw.
If the nausea and vomiting are getting worse and completely out of control, a pregnant woman may need to be hospitalized. There, the doctor will examine the patient’s condition and provide intravenous feeding.
Patient care and treatment at the hospital will be stopped immediately after the patient no longer feels persistent nausea and vomiting. Medication consumption such as pyridoxine will also be stopped as soon as the patient feels better, as excessive medications may harm the fetus.
Treatment Cost for Hyperemesis Gravidarum
The treatments costs for hyperemesis gravidarum are varied, depending on the severity, symptoms experienced, and the method of treatment chosen.
For more detailed information on the estimated cost of hyperemesis gravidarum treatment at home or abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
The primary way to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum is to identify your and your family medical history. If a parent or sibling has experienced a similar condition, then you should immediately take precautions by consulting a doctor prior to pregnancy.
Moreover, prior to conceiving, women are encouraged to increase their consumption of vitamin B6 and ginger. This can be useful for preventing hyperemesis gravidarum the moment the pregnancy starts.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum
The ultimate home remedy for patients of hyperemesis gravidarum is a lifestyle-change. You should make a habit of frequent eating and drinking in small amounts. In addition, avoid any food or smells that can trigger nausea.
Furthermore, regular consumption of medications prescribed by your doctors can help alleviate the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum.