While pregnancy is a generally blissful experience, what soon-to-be-mums aren’t so happy about would be morning sickness. You wake up in the morning, feeling dizzy and nauseous—and you’re vomiting more than usual. But do you know that severe morning sickness can be something else? You may be experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is believed to be caused by varying, often increasing, level of the pregnancy hormones also called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. It’s a worse case of morning sickness. Having hyperemesis gravidarum does not mean there’s something wrong with you or your lifestyle—it’s just your hormones acting up. Some mums experience worse, vomiting more than five times a day, while others have the condition longer than others.
Knowing the symptoms
The symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum resemble morning sickness, only they’re more awful. Its severity can sometimes lead to weight loss, dehydration, and in some cases, hospitalisation.
The most common symptoms are:
- Excessive vomiting that happens multiple times a day, sometimes accompanied by bile and/or blood
- Inability to keep down water leading to dehydration
- Excessive salivation
- Nausea that doesn’t seem to subside
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Rapid heart rate
It is important for your doctor to know how you’re feeling throughout pregnancy as hyperemesis gravidarum can harm you and your baby if not treated. It can also recur in your next pregnancy.
Your doctor will most probably ask for your medical history and conduct a standard physical exam. To check more signs of hyperemesis gravidarum, you might be asked for blood or urine samples and additional test to check possible gastrointestinal problems. Depending on severity, your doctor may advise the following:
- Ensure you get enough bed rest and sleep.
- Hydrate regularly. Dehydration actually makes your condition worse. Consider sucking an ice cube instead, if keeping down water is too difficult.
- Eat more dry food in smaller quantities, but more frequently.
- Medication. Only take the appropriate medicines, as prescribed by your doctor, to aid in nausea and vomiting.
- Hospitalisation. For more severe and sensitive cases, you might be confined in the hospital to get intravenous fluids or to restore nutrients either via nasogastric tube feeding, administered through the nose and into the stomach, or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy which requires a surgical procedure.