What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

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“Morning sickness” is a common condition where pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting. It can happen at any time of the day or night, despite its name. In rare cases, morning sickness can develop into Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), which is when the nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is so severe and persistent that it may cause severe dehydration, mineral and vitamin deficit or a loss of more than 5% of pre-pregnancy body weight.

Hyperemesis gravidarum may require hospitalisation and treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids, medications and in rare cases, a feeding tube.


While there are multiple factors to cause Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), currently, the most scientifically backed theory describes the placenta and appetite hormone GDF15 to play an important role in causing HG.

Risk factors

The below factors can increase a woman’s chances of having severe morning sickness:

  • Carrying multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Having a history of motion sickness
  • Migraine headaches with nausea or vomiting


HG may develop rapidly (within a few weeks) or gradually (over a few months).

Some symptoms include:

  • Severe and persistent nausea and vomiting that occur before the 20th week of pregnancy
    • These would be severe enough to result in progressive weight loss of greater than 5% of their original body weight
    • Frequent vomiting may also lead to dehydration and vitamin and mineral deficit
      • This often leads to hospitalization to restore lost fluids and nutrients to affected women.
  • Rising pulse rates
  • Excessive salivation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • (occurs in some women) a distinct odour to their breath

The symptoms that are associated with this disorder may get better and then resurface again, causing some affected individuals to be hospitalized for multiple times during their pregnancy.


Doctors will diagnose and confirm whether what you’re experiencing is hyperemesis gravidarum through several processes.

You will go through a thorough clinical evaluation, the doctor will interview you to ask you’re your detailed medical history, and will identify the above-listed characteristic symptoms (e.g., persistent and severe nausea and vomiting, dehydration, and weight loss).

For those women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, know that you are not alone and there is help available. If you or someone you know is dealing with this issue, please reach out to a doctor or support group. This diagnosis should be taken seriously as it can have a major impact on the woman’s quality of life during pregnancy.

Share this information with your pregnant friends to help spread awareness about this little-known but serious condition.