Hyperemesis Gravidarum – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a medical condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration during pregnancy. In the United States, it is responsible for most hospitalizations during the first half of pregnancy. This serious condition affects around one percent of pregnant women and can be a difficult complication to manage. It is more intense than the normal morning sickness experienced by many women during early pregnancy and sometimes requires hospitalization to keep mom and baby healthy. 

pregnant woman being monitored in the hospital


While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it is often associated with pregnancy complications such as difficulty with hormones or deficiencies in vitamin B6 and thiamine. Other possible contributing factors include genetic tendencies, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), thyroid disorders and metabolic abnormalities that occur during pregnancy.


The symptoms go far beyond morning sickness, with the potential to develop severe nausea and vomiting episodes that can last up to weeks or even months. Those suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum may experience loss of appetite, weight loss, dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, fatigue, and increased salivation. In some cases, there are metabolic disturbances that lead to dizziness and fainting. It’s important for medical professionals to identify this condition early in pregnancy so they can begin treatment right away. If left untreated or misdiagnosed, it can adversely impact both mother and baby.


Dealing with pregnancy complications, such as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), involves much more than just treatment. After a diagnosis is made, women are often unable to carry out their daily activities due to the severity of nausea and vomiting symptoms. Treatment for HG focuses on aggressively managing symptoms in order to prevent potentially life-threatening dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. While there is no single treatment plan that works universally, the primary means of treating HG include the use of prescription drugs, vitamins, dietary changes, home remedies, and additional support from family. It is important that HG patients make sure they stay properly hydrated and nourished; even if it means having to take several breaks throughout everyday tasks.

In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary to receive intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. If hyperemesis gravidarum is severe enough it may require a change in medication or even bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy.

This can have a big impact on both mom’s and baby’s health. It is important for mothers who suffer from this condition to get the necessary care and attention to help ensure their baby has the best chance of developing in a healthy way.  With treatment, hyperemesis gravidarum can be managed and most pregnant women will make a full recovery after childbirth.

About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

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