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Is It Just Morning Sickness or Something More?

Most people associate pregnancy with morning sickness. While OB/GYN physiciansconsider a fair amount of nausea and vomiting as normal, severe and long-term symptoms can negatively impact the pregnancy and the mother’s quality of life. In fact, morning sickness is associated with reduced miscarriage risk. However, a small amount of mothers-to-be experience nausea and vomiting that progresses to the point of hyperemesis gravidarum – a form of severe morning sickness that causes weight loss, dangerous electrolyte disturbances, and other problems.

Most people associate pregnancy with morning sickness.  While OB/GYN physicians consider a fair amount of nausea and vomiting as normal, severe and long-term symptoms can negatively impact the pregnancy and the mother’s quality of life.  In fact, morning sickness is associated with reduced miscarriage risk.  However, a small amount of mothers-to-be experience nausea and vomiting that progresses to the point of hyperemesis gravidarum – a form of severe morning sickness that causes weight loss, dangerous electrolyte disturbances, and other problems.

Just Morning Sickness or Something Worse?

With morning sickness, the nausea usually diminishes after the first trimester, or shortly afterward and vomiting only occurs on occasion.  With hyperemesis gravidarum, the nausea continues well past the first trimester and occurs with severe vomiting that causes dehydration and allows no food to remain in the stomach.  Many women feel miserable during the period when normal morning sickness occurs, but hyperemesis gravidarum can be debilitating and dangerous to mother and baby.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Symptoms

The sings and symptoms of this dangerous condition can vary with the individual patient, but may include the following:

  • Electrolyte disturbances from severe dehydration
  • Decreased volume of urination
  • Headaches and confusion
  • Fainting spells
  • Loss of 5 percent (or more) of weight
  • Aversion to food
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

If you have any of these symptoms accompanied by severe nausea and vomiting, do not try to solve this problem with remedies of your own.  Contact your OB/GYN doctor immediately for an evaluation.

Treatments for Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Physicians often prescribe rest, antacids, and a modified diet to women with mild cases of the condition.  Severe cases require a hospital stay so the mother may receive more intensive treatment, such as the administration of intravenous (IV) fluids to bring electrolytes back into balance and for rehydration.  When food simply will not stay down, physicians may order nasogastric feeding.  Nasogastric feeding involves the delivery of vitamins and nutrients through a tube inserted into the nose to the stomach.  The doctor may also give patients prescription anti-nausea medications, such as metoclopramide.  Antihistamines, antacids and prescription strength medications to fight reflux may help as well.

Remedies for Normal Morning Sickness

If your morning sickness does not qualify as hyperemesis gravidarum, but interferes with your daily activities, make an appointment at your OB/GYN clinic to inquire about treatments.  Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications or simply recommend certain over-the-counter products.  Some home remedies that mothers claim reduce symptoms of morning sickness include sucking on peppermint or ginger candy, drinking small amounts of gingerale soda, and eating saltine crackers.  Never try to self medicate with homeopathic herbs or other medicines.  Your OB is your partner in your health and the health of your baby.  He or she can offer sound advice regarding any pregnancy concern.

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