Severe Morning Sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum)
Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy. It is often called “morning sickness,” but it can occur at any time of day. But severe nausea and vomiting that doesn’t let up is not normal. Dehydration and weight loss can result. This can be dangerous for the mother and baby. Hyperemesis gravidarum (HEG) is the medical term for severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. If you have it, your health care provider can take steps to keep you and your baby safe. He or she can also help you find relief.
What are the symptoms of severe morning sickness?
Call your health care provider right away if you suspect that you have severe morning symptoms. The symptoms include:
Inability to keep down liquids
Nausea that is severe and lasts beyond the first few months
Inability to empty the bladder
Urine that is dark and concentrated
What causes severe morning symptoms?
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are thought to be due to an increase in certain hormone levels. It is not clear what causes severe morning sickness, but it may be more likely in women carrying twins or more. Your health care provider will do some tests to rule out certain health conditions that may lead to severe nausea and vomiting.
Getting relief from morning sickness
To help combat nausea, eat small amounts frequently. This helps prevent the stomach from being empty, which can make nausea worse. Choose dry foods such as crackers. Try sipping cold, clear drinks. And ask your health care provider about taking vitamin B6 or ginger to help ease nausea. Your provider may recommend that you try vitamin B6 and a medication called doxylamine to relieve the nausea. In some cases, alternative treatments such as acupuncture are effective in helping managing nausea during pregnancy.
Treating severe morning sickness
The focus of treatment for severe morning sickness is to relieve symptoms and prevent weight loss and dehydration. If you are dehydrated or losing weight, steps are needed to protect you and your baby. You will most likely be admitted to the hospital for at least a short time. There, you can be given IV fluids to rehydrate you. You may also be prescribed medications that relieve nausea. In very severe cases, a longer hospitalization may be needed. IV nutrition or tube feeding will then be used. If this becomes necessary, your health care provider can tell you more.
Recovery and follow-up
With treatment, severe morning sickness can be managed. Follow up with your health care provider to be sure you are keeping down fluids and gaining a healthy amount of weight.
When to seek medical care
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:
Signs of dehydration, including extreme thirst, headache, little urine, very dark urine, or a dry, sticky mouth.
Dizziness or fainting
Racing or pounding heart
Blood in your vomit