Hyperemesis gravidarum is severe nausea and vomiting that starts during the first trimester or first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Symptoms usually begin 4 to 6 weeks into the pregnancy. Symptoms may lessen by 15 to 20 weeks, although for some women the symptoms may last the entire pregnancy. Risk factors for this condition are a diet high in saturated fat, epilepsy, untreated asthma, kidney or liver disease, and a history of hyperemesis gravidarum in your family. Hyperemesis gravidarum is more common in the first pregnancy and when carrying more than one baby at a time.
In addition to nausea and vomiting, hyperemesis gravidarum may cause dehydration, significant weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalance, anemia, fatigue, and headaches. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe nausea and vomiting and may be pregnant, it is important to talk to your doctor or obstetrician. Early treatment is important because dehydration and weight loss during pregnancy are dangerous for both you and your baby.
Testing for this condition may include a blood draw to check blood count and electrolyte levels, urine sample, physical examination, and ultrasound imaging. Treatment usually includes rest, fluids, and nutritional supplements as well as emotional support. If you have been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, talk to your doctor or obstetrician about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also available for more resources and information.