Morning Sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum)

Written by Dr. Ryner Lai
December 25, 2020


Becoming pregnant can be one of the most joyous occasions of life, especially if you and your partner have been planning to have a child for some time. However, sometimes complications occur in pregnancy. One common condition might be ‘morning sickness’ – in other words, you might feel nauseous and experience vomiting. 


Morning sickness can be normal in pregnancy. However, if it becomes so severe that it impairs your ability to look after yourself and your baby, it becomes a condition that is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. In this condition, you may experience excessive nausea and vomiting and as a result experience loss of weight and feel light-headed. 


Hyperemesis gravidarum is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that when you go to a doctor, the doctor should rule out other serious causes of excessive nausea and vomiting. Only when all other potentially serious causes of your symptoms are ruled out can you be said to be properly diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. 


If you experience severe hyperemesis gravidarum, you might need to be hospitalized and observed by medical professionals until you get better. The most important treatment for you if you’re diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum is to ensure that the fluids you lost through vomiting are replaced. This means that your doctor might set you up with some IV fluids. In milder cases, your doctor might prescribe you some anti-vomiting medication, such as doxylamine and pyridoxine (also known as Vitamin B6). Zofran (ondansetron), was previously one of the most commonly prescribed medications for nausea during pregnancy. However, it now has a so-called ‘back box warning’ by the FDA attached to it because there is a small chance of malformations of the heart and oral clefts (cleft palate). While Zofran is still prescribed during pregnancy, the risks should be discussed with the patient.


An important way to prevent hyperemesis gravidarum is to avoid environmental triggers. Examples of triggers can be certain odors, heat, or noise. Many female patients also find that taking ginger or ginger-containing foods can help with their symptoms. 


The most important thing to remember when you have hyperemesis gravidarum is to always monitor your symptoms and ensure that you eat and drink adequately. After all, you want only the best for yourself and your baby. Do not hesitate to contact a doctor if you start experiencing severe symptoms or are unsure of what you’re experiencing. 

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