What Is The Cause Of Hyperemesis Gravidarum While Pregnant?

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Hyperemesis gravidarum is the condition which is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance. Mild cases can be treated by dietary changes, rest and antacids. Severe cases often requires hospitalization so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line (IV). Make sure not to consume any medications without consulting your health care provider.

Why is this happening to me?

A major part of pregnant women for about 70-80%, experience some sort of morning sickness. Studies reveal that at least 60,000 cases of extreme morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) have been reported so far from various hospitals and the numbers are expected to be much higher than this, since most of them decide to treat this at home itself.

Even though the exact cause of this severe nausea is still unknown, it is mainly due to the rise in hormone levels. The symptoms of HG usually appear between 4-6 weeks of pregnancy and will be in peak between 9-13 weeks. Even though, most women receive some relief between weeks 14-20, around 20% of women may require care for hyperemesis throughout the rest of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are no known preventive measures for Hyperemesis gravidarum but it is always better to know the ways to manage it.

Distinguishing between morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum

  • The morning sickness which is common during pregnancy period is often misled by hyperemesis gravidarum. Even though there are certain similarities for both they are not one and the same.
  • One of the main symptom of morning sickness is nausea accompanied by vomiting. In case of hyperemesis gravidarum the vomiting may be much severe.
  • Nausea that subsides at 12 weeks or soon after is often caused by morning sickness and in case of hyperemesis gravidarum nausea that does subside is the main symptom.
  • In case of morning sickness, Vomiting is not accompanied by severe dehydration. But for hyperemesis gravidarum vomiting may lead to severe dehydration.
  • For morning sickness, Vomiting makes you to keep some food down and that does not happen in the case for hyperemesis gravidarum.

Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum

  • Severe vomiting and nausea
  • Weight loss of 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight
  • Food aversions
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Secondary anxiety/depression

Treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum

In some cases hyperemesis gravidarum may be severe enough and hospitalization may be required.

Hospital treatment may include some the following:

  • Intravenous fluids (IV)  in order to restore hydration, electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients
  • Tube feeding:
    • Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy – restores nutrients through a tube passing through the abdomen and to the stomach which requires a surgical procedure
    • Nasogastric intubation to restore nutrients through a tube passing through the nose directly to the stomach
  • Medications – metoclopramide, antihistamines, and anti-reflux are commonly used medications.

Other treatments may include:

  • Bed Rest : Bed rest is essential to provide comfort but at the same time it is essential to be aware of the effects of muscle and weight loss due to too much bed rest.
  • Acupressure: Press firmly at the pressure point for about three minutes to reduce nausea which is located at the middle of the inner wrist ,three finger length away from the crease of the wrist and between the two tendons.
  • Herbs – ginger or peppermint
  • Homeopathic remedies are a non-toxic system of medicines but do not try to self medicate with homeopathic methods unless prescribed by doctor.
  • Hypnosis