Know the basics
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is an extreme form of morning sickness, with severe nausea and vomiting. It leads to dehydration, disturbances in metabolism (abnormal levels of chemicals called electrolytes and ketones), and rapid weight loss. These changes can mean a hospital stay. Complications of HG may be serious and related to kidney, nervous system, and liver damage.
How common is hyperemesis gravidarum?
Hyperemesis gravidarum is rare, so even though 70% to 85% of women have morning sickness, only about 1% to 2% will have HG. HG may mean you have a multiple pregnancy (twins or more).
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum?
Symptoms usually begin between the fourth and eighth week of pregnancy and last until 16 weeks or more. Most women vomit often throughout the day, with few if any symptom-free periods.
Other symptoms include severe nausea, weight loss, reduced urination, headaches, confusion, fainting, and jaundice. Dehydration is indicated by ketones in urine, increased pulse rate, and lower blood pressure.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should call your doctor immediately when having signs of pregnancy for more specific instructions and to be monitored. However, if you suffer from frequent and excessive vomiting or fainted, you need an emergency and urgent hospitalization… Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes hyperemesis gravidarum?
Most women have some nausea or vomiting (morning sickness), particularly during the first 3 months of pregnancy. The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is believed to be a rapidly rising blood level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG is released by the placenta.
Some women have extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This can happen in any pregnancy, but is a little more likely if you are pregnant with twins (or more babies), or if you have a hydatidiform mole.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for hyperemesis gravidarum?
The risk of Hyperemesis gravidarum may be increased if you are younger age of the mother, body weight (obesity), no previous completed pregnancies, first pregnancy, and history of HG in prior pregnancies. Biological, psychological, and social factors may all play a role.
Not having risk factors does not mean you cannot get hamstring strains. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for more details.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is hyperemesis gravidarum diagnosed?
The doctor makes a diagnosis when severe nausea and vomiting lead to weight loss, dehydration, or disturbances in the body’s chemistry. To be sure that nothing else is causing these symptoms, the doctor may do blood and urine tests. Ultrasonography may also be done.
How is hyperemesis gravidarum treated?
When symptoms are not too bad, eating dry foods such as crackers and small, frequent meals may be enough. Drinking more fluids may help. (If you drink fizzy drinks such as seltzer or other sparkling water, pour it over ice and let it sit for a bit to let some of the fizz out.) Women with HG may need intravenous fluids and vitamins and hospitalization. Medicines to prevent nausea (antiemetics) are for women with severe and long-lasting vomiting. Once fluids can be taken, eating small bland meals and then more food may be possible. If these methods don’t work, drugs or a method of feeding called total parenteral nutrition may be used.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hyperemesis gravidarum?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hyperemesis gravidarum:
- Get treatment from a doctor experienced with HG.
- Donot eat large or spicy meals or high-fat foods.
- Donot eat just before you go to bed or lie down.
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Have high-protein snacks.
- Have crackers, dry toast or dry cereal when you first get up in the morning.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Download version.
Hyperemesis gravidarum. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001499.htm. Accessed July 14, 2016.
Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., Homeier, B. P., & Albert, R. K. (2009). The Merck manual home health handbook. Whitehouse Station, NJ, Merck Research Laboratories. Print edition. Page 1645
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017