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Morning Sickness or Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

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morning-sickness-or-hyperemesis-gravidarumA royal baby is on the way!

Exciting news out of England tells us that the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge (AKA: Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton) are expecting the their first baby. Kate is also suffering from "Acute Morning Sickness," or more specifically, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).

Don’t feel bad if you have never heard of HG until now; it is something that affects a very small number of pregnant women. But for those it does affect, it can have a huge impact on their well-being.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

While 3 out of 4 women will experience some degree of morning sickness during their pregnancy, a small percentage of these women will experience severe morning sickness involving extreme vomiting, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances and a first trimester weight loss of approximately 10% of the woman’s normal body weight.

Most affected women have many episodes of vomiting during the day and often have no symptom-free times! Hyperemesis Gravidarum is serious and can lead to hospitalization. Although most women feel better by the 21st  week of their pregnancy, it can sometimes last the whole nine months.

What Casues Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

There are a lot of theories on what causes Hyperemesis Gravidarum, but no one really knows for sure why some women suffer from HG while others do not. The most common theory is that the increase in hormones (human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and estrogen) in early pregnancy is the culprit.

Does Extreme Morning Sickness Mean a Diagnosis of HG?

Not necessarily. Extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy may not indicate any problem; however it could be an indication of:

  • viral gastroenteritis
  • flu
  • food poisoning
  • hepatitis A, B, or C
  • hydatidiform mole (an abnormal tumorous growth of the placenta)
  • multiple pregnancy (twins, etc.)
  • urinary tract infection
  • appendicitis
  • cholecystitis, which is an inflammation of the gallbladder
  • ulcers

It is important to visit your doctor for diagnosis if you are experiencing any symptoms.

How is HG Diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose HG based on the symptoms and a physical exam. Lab tests will look for indications of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Signs of Hyperemesis Gravidarum may include:

  • low potassium level in blood
  • low urine output
  • highly concentrated urine
  • low blood pressure
  • rapid pulse
  • ketones, or the breakdown of fat in the urine
  • increased blood count, or hematocrit

Your doctor may order other tests to rule out other disorders such as:

  • ultrasound to look at gallbladder
  • urinalysis and culture to test for bacteria
  • ultrasound to look for twins or a tumorous growth of the placenta
  • serum for hepatitis testing
  • liver function tests

Can HG be Prevented?

While there is no known way to prevent HG, it can be treated effectively. Properly treated, HG generally does not present serious long-term problems for the mother or infant and  most women with HG do go on to have healthy babies.

Think You May Have HG? Get Treatment!

Proper medical supervision is essential. If HG is left untreated, it is life threatening to the mom and the baby.

Treatments vary from diet modification, medicines, vitamins and herbs to homeopathy, acupressure, and chiropractic. Discuss your best options with your doctor.

If you think you may be suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, please consult your doctor as soon as possible.

For more from Anne, check out her website!

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