Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is an uncommon condition characterized by frequent, persistent, and severe vomiting and nausea during pregnancy. As a result, you may be unable to take in a sufficient amount of food and fluids. It can cause a weight loss of more than 5% of your pre-pregnancy body weight. This can also cause dehydration and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Treatment may require hospitalization.
HG is a more severe form of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), also called
. Morning sickness affects anywhere between 70% to 80% of pregnant women. HG is estimated to occur in 0.5%-2% of pregnancies.
There are many theories about the causes of HG, but none have been confirmed. HG is a complex disease that is likely caused by many factors. Some of these include:
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)—hyperemesis most severe during period of highest hCG levels
—may be a result of hCG levels
- High levels of estrogen
- A multiple pregnancy
- Brain nausea-control-center sensitivity to pregnancy changes
The Brain May Be Cause of Nausea
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Treating HG symptoms early in pregnancy can make you less sick in the long run and can decrease recovery time. Because HG is caused by many factors that vary among women, it is difficult to find a treatment that works for everyone. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Try to eat frequent, small meals, bland or dry foods, high-protein choices.
Reducing nausea, and thus allowing eating and drinking, will hasten recovery. Due to the risk of stating that a drug is safe for use during pregnancy, very few pharmaceutical manufacturers will say that their drugs are intended for a pregnancy condition like HG. However, doctors often recommend that women with HG take certain anti-nausea medications, balancing the potential benefits and risks. Talk to your doctor about the right medications for you.
A common and safe remedy is to take supplemental vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that first-line treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy should start with pyridoxine with or without doxylamine. Pyridoxine has been found to be effective in significantly reducing severe vomiting.
IV Hydration and Anti-nausea Medications
In urgent visit situations, HG can be managed by IV fluids and vitamins. This can sometimes be done without hospitalization. Very rarely, some people require IV fluids throughout the entire pregnancy.
Nutrition by Vein
If you are unable to tolerate food by mouth, you may need to receive nutrition by vein. This is called parenteral nutrition. A special kind of catheter is placed in a large vein and liquid nutrition is given. This can sometimes be done without hospitalization.
may help to reduce nausea. Acupressure is when pressure is applied to
Termination of Pregnancy
In extreme cases, induced abortion may be considered.
If you are diagnosed with HG, follow your doctor's