Excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy – Hyperemesis gravidarum

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A lot of women complain of nausea and vomiting in the first few weeks of pregnancy, when this becomes severe and occurs almost throughout the day, it is called hyperemesis gravidarum. All other causes of nausea and vomiting must have been excluded before you can make the diagnosis. These symptoms can be severe enough to affect both the mother and the baby in her womb.

The main cause of this is unknown although some research has been done to show some likely factors that could be involved. Although hyperemesis gravidarum may not be preventable, some measures can be taken to reduce these symptoms and the side effects it can have both on the mother and the baby.

What does its course look like

It usually start between 4 – 7 weeks of pregnancy, peaks at 9 weeks and will resolve at 20 weeks in most women, although it can persist throughout pregnancy in few women.

Causes of hyperemesis gravidarum

The main cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is largely unknown but it has been linked to increase in level of hormones in the early stage of pregnancy. Other likely causes are as seen below.

  •  Women with twin, triplet or quadruplet pregnancy are at increased risk.
  •  If you are pregnant for the first time, you can have hyperemesis gravidarum
  •  It is said to be commoner in young mothers. As a woman grows older, her hormonal level reduces which also reduces her risk.
  • If any woman in your family line (mother, sister,  grandmother etc.) had excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, you are likely to experience it too.
  • It has been said to also occur if there is a wide spacing between your last child and the present pregnancy.

Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum

  1. They feel nauseated most of the time throughout the day.
  2. They vomit excessively. This is usually more at the smell or sight of food.
  3. They feel weak and dizzy usually after excessive vomiting.
  4. They lose weight.
  5. They can become dehydrated.
  6. They salivate excessively.
  7. They may have sleep disturbance, mood changes and anxiety.


Complications of hyperemesis gravidarum

Excessive vomiting can have effect on the mother and the baby inside her.

  1. It can cause psychological stress for the mother.
  2. She can also become malnourished.
  3. She can get her esophagus torn from excessive vomiting.
  4. It can lead to preterm labor.
  5. The baby can have poor growth in the womb if the vomiting persist for a long time.

How to reduce the effect of hyperemesis gravidarum

  1. Eat food in small quantity but frequently.
  2. Take your pregnancy medications with dinner instead of taking it in the morning.
  3. Stay hydrated. Take small sips of water frequently instead of drinking a lot at once.
  4. Avoid what nauseate you as much as you can.
  5. Ensure you rest well.


Excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy also called hyperemesis gravidarum usually start in the first few weeks of pregnancy. This tend to have negative effects on both the mother and the baby in her womb if it becomes prolonged. Although it cannot be prevented, the episodes can be reduced by taking appropriate measures.

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Dr Kay
About Dr Kay 58 Articles
As a physician, I love to give answers to several questions bothering people, educating them on how to be healthy, breaking down what their present condition is all about and counselling them on how to manage their condition.

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