Hyperemesis: Is It Real?
I have heard reactions about Princess Kate’s hospitalization from a lot of mothers along the lines of,
Wow, must be nice! To be hospitalized for morning sickness? I wish I was a princess so I could be coddled every time I puked too! Hmpph.
And as any one of us who have experienced the pleasantries of morning all-day sickness can attest to, it is brutal. But even the 24/7 nausea and vomiting that many of us experience with pregnancy is not the same as the condition that the Princess and many pregnant women have suffered from.
According to the HER Foundation (Hyperemesis Education and Research), Hyperemesis Gravidarum (abbreviated as HG) is defined as “a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the newborn(s).”
The cause of HG is largely unknown, but is thought to be a combination of factors, including hormones (but what condition involving women isn’t blamed on hormones?) and possibly structural changes in the stomach and esophagus during pregnancy.
So how can you know if your morning sickness is normal or warrants medical treatment?
HG is marked by the inability to maintain an adequate intake of fluids or nutrition; in other words, you can’t keep anything down. Women presenting with HG usually have suffered extreme weight loss, around twenty pounds, which might not be noticeable if they were overweight before getting pregnant, although it is still very significant. Lab testing can provide a more definitive diagnosis to show if dehydration is present. If left untreated, HG can cause severe and permanent organ damage and possibly even death.
Other signs and symptoms of HG, from the HER Foundation include:
- Body odor (from rapid fat loss & ketosis)
- Decreased urination
- Dry, furry tongue
- Excessive salivation
- Fainting or dizziness
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Pale, waxy, dry skin
Did you experience severe morning sickness with your pregnancy?
Photo via Flickr: koadmunkee