In many pregnancies, morning sickness is one of the earliest signs. It’s a normal, harmless condition that affects around 70% of pregnant women. However, there is an extreme form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. Around 0.5-2% of pregnant women experience it. This condition can cause especially severe nausea and vomiting compared with the typical form of morning sickness. In spite of the similarities between these conditions, they are actually very different. Side effects vary, and treatment for symptoms differs as well.
Morning Sickness Versus Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Morning sickness typically results in nausea. Sometimes, a pregnant woman might even vomit. It’s possible to feel fatigued and lose your appetite, but nausea and vomiting are never severe enough to cause problems like dehydration. Morning sickness usually goes away by week 12 through 14 of pregnancy, so women often feel a sense of relief by the time they’re in their second trimester. By contrast, hyperemesis gravidarum is a serious condition that is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting. Women who suffer from it often lose weight and become dehydrated, which is especially dangerous during pregnancy. It can even be difficult to keep food and liquids down. Hyperemesis gravidarum can significantly impact a woman’s everyday life. It usually starts within the first six weeks of pregnancy and can last for weeks or even months. Nausea is constant, and women affected by the condition are often fatigued long-term.
What Causes Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
While some level of morning sickness is normal during pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum is not normal. It’s believed to have a link with human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, the pregnancy hormone. If there are extremely high levels of hCG, it’s possible to develop the condition. Some women are at a higher risk for hyperemesis gravidarum. Being pregnant with multiples, first-time pregnancy, being overweight, and having a history of the condition in your family can increase your risk. It’s also possible to develop hyperemesis gravidarum if there are abnormal cell growths inside the uterus.
Treatment for Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Some women with hyperemesis gravidarum can take natural methods such as ginger or vitamin B6 as treatment. It also helps to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and snack on crackers. Drinking plenty of fluids can help with hydration. In especially severe cases, medication might be prescribed to control nausea and vomiting when the mother or baby might be at risk. Some women even require hospitalization. If you need treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum in Salem, Oregon, contact WFMC Health to schedule an appointment. We also have telehealth appointments available for your convenience.