Here is What Excessive Vomiting In Pregnancy Means

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What comes first to your mind when you see a lady vomiting in a movie scene? Your first guess could be that she is pregnant.

Nausea and vomiting is one of the presumptive signs of conception which gets intense in the early hours of the day which is why it is called morning sickness.

When vomiting becomes excessive, it puts the life of the woman and baby in danger. This condition is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Learn more about this condition and its treatment and complications.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a condition in pregnancy characterized by uncontrollable vomiting that leads to dehydration, weight loss, and ketosis.

This condition can get so severe that one may need to be hospitalized for monitoring and treatment.

Studies show that only 3% of pregnant women will experience hyperemesis gravidarum. It usually starts at week 4-6 of pregnancy and worsens around week 9-13.

What exactly is the cause?

To date, the cause is unknown but it is associated with the rapid increase in hormones that are important in pregnancy (estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin).

If a woman experiences this condition in her first pregnancy, she will likely have it in subsequent pregnancies.

Some conditions have been observed to have a connection with hyperemesis gravidarum, they are;

  1. Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplet, quadruplet, etc.)
  2. Hydatidiform mole
  3. History of unsuccessful pregnancy

How to differentiate between normal and excessive vomiting in pregnancy

Normal Vomiting (Morning Sickness)Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Nausea is sometimes accompanied by vomiting subsides after a short whileNausea and vomiting is persistent and does not subside
Vomiting does not cause dehydrationVomiting causes severe dehydration
There will be normal weight gainThere is serious weight loss
Loss of appetite is minimalLoss of appetite is severe as food or fluids will not be able to stay down
Fatigue is also minimalFatigue can last for weeks to months
Disappears from week 12-14 in pregnancyPersists throughout or most of the period of pregnancy
May experience difficulty in carrying out activities of daily livingMay not be able to perform any normal activity

Read Here; Why you should take a Pap test today

How Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum diagnosed?

Women with HG often show symptoms like;

  1. Vomiting more than 3 times daily
  2. Always feeling nauseated
  3. Losing weight
  4. Dehydration
  5. Lack of appetite
  6. Feeling dizzy frequently

When you see a doctor, these symptoms will be examined along with symptoms of dehydration such as pale conjunctiva, sunken eyes, dry skin, low blood pressure and fast but weak pulse.

You might also be asked to do an ultrasound scan to check if you’re carrying more than one baby or to detect any other problems.

Also, blood and urine tests will be carried out to check how dehydrated you are, your hcg levels and also to eliminate other likely cause of nausea and vomiting such as an infection.

What are the complications?

Pregnant women may be tagged weak or pretending when they are observed to vomit frequently. They should not be ignored as their lives and that of their babies may be in grave danger.

If left untreated, hyperemesis gravidarum might result into;

  1. Jaundice
  2. Fainting
  3. Confusion
  4. Headaches
  5. Depression
  6. Liver damage

How can it be treated?

There is no particular cure for this condition but symptoms are taken care of to prevent complications.

  1. To reduce nausea and vomiting, Vitamin B6 is often prescribed.
  2. To help prevent weight loss and help appetite, it is encouraged to eat small meals u to 4-6 times a day.
  3. Drinking lots of water helps to stay hydrated
  4. Avoid things that trigger nausea

When the condition is severe, hospitalization is the best option as the woman will be given intravenous therapy (drips) to treat dehydration and antiemetic (anti-vomiting medication) to relieve nausea.

Termination of the pregnancy may be required if the woman Is experiencing severe physical or psychological signs that is life threatening.

It is not advisable to self medicate during pregnancy hence, seek medical advice when you’re concerned about your health.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a serious condition in pregnancy that should not be taken with levity. If you are showing symptoms of HG, seek medical care immediately to prevent life threatening complications.


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