While most people are familiar with morning sickness during pregnancy, far less is known about hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), that affects up to 2% of pregnant women. Often over-looked because the symptoms are so similar to morning sickness, HG is nevertheless capable of causing serious complications during pregnancy. In extreme cases, women can lose 20% of their bodyweight, though a loss of around 5% of pre-pregnancy bodyweight is far more common. If HG is not adequately treated, it can result in nutritional deficiencies, and metabolic imbalances. Severe dehydration is also a possibility, and this requires immediate emergency medical treatment.
The cause of HG is still unclear, and some medical professionals even blame it on psychological symptoms, such as and emotional reaction to an unwanted pregnancy. However, modern research emphatically indicates that HG is a genuine medical complaint caused by a chemical imbalance in the body, particularly high levels of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) and estrogen.
Treatment for HG usually involves IV hydration and antiemetic medications. Unfortunately, HG often goes undiagnosed and many women attempt to use coping strategies for regular morning sickness, such as regulating their diet. However, such recourse is unlikely to work in the case of HG, and medical treatment is best advised. Sufferers often need to have their levels of vitamin B1 bolstered, as frequent vomiting is known to reduce B1.
The most common medication used to treat HG is Benedictin. Benedictin was the subject of birth-defect litigation in the United States, and although the FDA has given it the all clear, it is still unavailable in the US. Although Benedictin is still widely prescribed throughout the world, it is acknowledged by medical experts that no medication is completely risk free during pregnancy.
If you suspect that somebody you know has HG, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Evidence shows that early treatment is the most effective. Take steps to ensure that the patient is aware that HG is not a psychological problem, so they should seek medical help to overcome this disease.
John Phillips is a full-time editor and content writer. He has written extensively on technology, Asian affairs, soccer and politics.