Severe Vomiting: Hyperemesis Gravidarum During Pregnancy

While pregnancy is often the happiest time in a woman’s life, the happiness women experience during pregnancy can feel dulled when they are suddenly overcome with the nausea and vomiting that often accompanies pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, nearly 70 percent of women report experiencing some type of “morning sickness” during pregnancy. However, hyperemesis gravidarum is much more rare form of pregnancy nausea and vomiting that can occur during pregnancy. Indeed, WebMD reports that only around 3% of pregnant women experience hyperemesis gravidarum. While nausea and vomiting can be very uncomfortable for pregnancy women, how can you tell when nausea and vomiting has crossed the line from typical morning sickness into the serious and even life-threatening condition hyperemesis gravidarum? According to WebMD, hyperemesis differs from typical morning sickness in the following ways:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Symptoms

  • Severe Vomiting: Women with hyperemesis gravidarum typically experience vomiting that inhibits their ability to function in everyday life. They may be unable to keep any nutrients down, unable to work, or unable to perform daily chores and activities.
  • Long-Lasting Nausea: While most women experience a relief in morning sickness near the start of the second trimester, women who are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum do not typically find relief from nausea until after 20 weeks, and sometimes, not at all during pregnancy.
  • Rapid Weight Loss: Women who are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum experience a rapid weight loss that is not found in women with regular morning sickness. This is characterized as a weight loss of more than 5 percent of a woman’s pre-pregnancy weight.
  • Dehydration: Because of the severe vomiting that accompanies hyperenesis gravidarum, women are often not able to ingest water at the level that is necessary during pregnancy. This can lead to issues with dehydration, which may also lend to problems with electrolyte imbalance.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: To function properly, bodies require certain levels of minerals such as sodium and potassium. Imbalances in minerals within the body may cause pregnant women to experience weakness, changes in blood pressure, and dizziness as well.
  • Decreased Kidney Functioning: Hyperemesis gravidarum can also cause for kidneys to not function as they should, which in turn may cause pregnant women to urinate less than usual.
  • Saliva: Women diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum often report that they produce higher levels of saliva than normal. Many also report that swallowing the saliva increases the symptoms of nausea that they experience as well.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Causes

Currently, very little is known about what causes hyperemesis gravidarum. According to the National Institute of Health, it is believed that the rapid increase in human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) produced by the placenta during the first trimester is what causes women to experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Some women state that certain smells, tastes, and textures may cause for nausea and vomiting symptoms to worsen. Others have found that riding in cars or taking showers can also trigger hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms. It is important to remember that every woman is different in what may trigger severe nausea and vomiting and that each woman should keep a log of what seems to trigger her own individual symptoms.

Even while nausea and vomiting that occur during pregnancy can be typical for many women, hyperemesis gravidarum is a much more severe and persistent condition that a smaller percentage of pregnant women experience. Hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms such as rapid weight loss, dehydration, and severe vomiting should not be ignored by pregnant women. While the cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is not entirely known, there are treatment options available to pregnant women who experience these symptoms. However, women should alwvomays consult with a medical professional before attempting to medicate when they experience any of these abnormal symptoms during pregnancy.