Causes Of Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Symptoms & Home Treatment

Almost 70 to 80 percent of pregnant women experience some amount of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. People call it morning sickness. But in few women the symptoms are more severe and debilitating; the condition is then referred as hyperemesis gravidarum. HG (Hyperemesis gravidarum) is defined as a condition with persistent vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, presence of ketone in urine.

Morning sickness usually does not last beyond 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum may continue further. Generally hyperemesis gravidarum begins from 4th or 5th month of pregnancy.

The exact cause of HG is not clearly understood, but rise of hormone level is suspected to be the underlying cause.

A woman who had hyperemesis gravidarum during her first pregnancy is more susceptible to develop the same in her following pregnancies. Hyperemesis cannot be prevented but the symptoms can be managed. Many women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum need hospitalization during their first trimester.

Causes And Risk Factors Of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

As mentioned earlier, almost all women experience some amount of morning sickness during their pregnancy. But in hyperemesis gravidarum the severity is more. The cause of HG is not fully understood, but several factors have been presumed to contribute this discomforting and debilitating condition.

Here are some of the underlying factors:

  • Rapid changes occurring in the hormone level during early pregnancy.
  • Emotional and physical stress.
  • Slow emptying of food from the stomach.
  • Deficiency of vitamins and minerals.
  • Increased level of thyroid hormones.
  • Sensitivity to smell and texture of food.
  • Infection in stomach.
  • Change in the immune function.

The risk increases:

  • Previous history of hyperemesis gravidarum.
  • Multiple gestations
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy for the first time.
  • Trophoblastic disease. It is a condition characterized by abnormal cellular growth in uterus.

Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms begin in the early months of pregnancy. It usually begins in 4th or 5th month. The symptoms persist throughout nine months of pregnancy in almost half of the pregnant woman suffering from this condition.

Here are important clinical features of hyperemesis gravidarum:

  • Persistent vomiting and nausea. Even small amount of food is thrown out. Vomiting more that 3 to 4 times in a day. Vomits within one hour after every meal.
  • Weight loss more than 5% of pregnancy period. Weight loss is more during the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Signs of dehydration such as reduced urine output, dark yellow urine, dry skin and tongue, increased thirst, tiredness.
  • Feeling dizzy and weak.
  • Passage of ketone in urine. This can be detected in urine examination.

Home Treatment For Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Management of hyperemesis gravidarum depends on the severity of symptoms. Some pregnant women having severe symptoms may need hospitalization for treatment.

Home treatment consists of:

  • Change in lifestyle: Eat small but frequent meals to avoid empty stomach. Eat dry crackers, cereals, toast, when feeling nauseous.
  • Drink sips of water frequently. Drink it through straw. Drink lemon juice or sports drink in small amount frequently. It will help to replenish lost electrolytes.
  • Avoid strong smelling food.
  • Eat ginger in small quantity. It can be taken as dried ginger or may be added to the tea.
  • Take supplementary vitamin B6.
  • Anti emetic medicines may be prescribed by the doctor.

If still vomiting is not controlled and there are signs of dehydration, the woman may need to be hospitalized for intravenous fluids. Once in the hospital medicines may be given through intravenous route. Nutrition may be introduced through tube feeding. Once vomiting is controlled the woman may begin oral medicines and feeding.