Hyperemesis gravidarum is excessive vomiting of a pregnant woman; it is an excessive and exacerbated form of morning sickness that is suffered by a very small minority of pregnant women.
Hyperemesis gravidarum happens in less than 2% of women; however, without treatment it can cause some very serious complications that can greatly endanger a woman’s health and well being.
The actual cause of Hyperemesis gravidarum is not clearly understood, though for a long time it was believed to be a disorder with a psychological origin.
For instance, it was often believed that if a woman had an adverse reaction to her pregnancy, or rejected it; or if she suffered from some other underlying stress or psychological disorder then she would develop this problem during pregnancy.
This theory often prevented women from receiving the kind of medical intervention that would ease the problem, however this theory has been debunked in recent times.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is said to be caused by certain genetic predispositions as well as other reasons such as raised HCG levels or higher levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
In addition, it is also thought that this condition may be triggered by the body’s immune system’s perception of the presence of a fetus as that of a ‘foreign body’. Leptin is also thought to have something to do with Hyperemesis gravidarum.
Though the fetus is usually seen to suffer no ill effects from this condition, there are several reasons that this condition should not be ignored and should receive swift care since it can cause a number of problems as listed below:
- Some women lose between 5 and 20% of their body weight due to Hyperemesis gravidarum
- Excessive vomiting and loss of fluid can cause dehydration and even ketosis
- Malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies can occur when a woman is unable to keep down sufficient food for subsistence
- Mallory Weiss tears, which are little lesions at the conjunction of the stomach and food pipe that may bleed and which happen because of excessive vomiting
- There may be metabolic imbalances and an inability to go about everyday activities as a result
- The senses may also be altered. Women may experience excessive salivation, altered sense of taste and heightened sensitivity of the brain to motion. In extreme cases there may be hallucinations experienced.
- There may be popping of blood vessels in the eyes
- Stress levels, both physical and psychological may increase considerably.
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum can also cause renal failure, central pontine myelinolysis, coagulopathy, hypoglycemia, atrophy, jaundice, pneumomediastinum, Wernicke’s rhabdomyolysis, encephalopathy, deconditioning, vasospasms of cerebral arteries and splenic avulsion