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Is it Morning Sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

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Pregnancy is a beautiful thing but as any pregnant woman will tell you, some of the things your body will do or go through are not so much. Morning sickness, for instance, is simply defined as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) and is a pretty common condition. However, the other side of the spectrum is called hyperemesis gravidarum.

What is it?

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is the extreme of morning sickness – severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that necessitates hospitalization. Due to the severity of the vomiting and nausea, dehydration, vitamin and mineral deficits and even weight loss may be experienced if left untreated.

Although this is a rare condition, it is important to recognize the symptoms so mother and child can be safe. HG symptoms may appear all of a sudden or slowly over a period of time. Usually, persistent or even severe vomiting in HG occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy. There may be a rise in pulse rate, excessive salivation, rapid heart rate, and in some cases, ketonic odor (distinct breath odor). Symptoms may even come and go, resulting in repeated hospitalizations.

What Causes It?

Scientists only have theories when it comes to the cause of HG. What is known is that while morning sickness may occur in up to 90% of pregnancies, HG occurs in only 2% of pregnancies. According to the Center for Disease Control, in approximate numbers, this affects 60,000 women in the U.S. and 4,000 women in Canada yearly. However, it is the second cause for hospitalization during early stages of pregnancy. Thankfully, with most patients, HG subsides even before the 20th week. There are exceptions, however. Some patients experience HG well past the 20th week - some even to term.

What about Treatment?

After HG is clearly diagnosed, physicians would need to note the frequency of nausea and vomiting and even the extent that it affects the person’s life. This information helps in determining if further treatment is needed, such as hospitalization.

The patient is hospitalized in order to restore life-sustaining fluids and electrolytes.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.