Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Sick of Morning Sickness? Get Relief Here

Updated: 9/27/23

Are you feeling overwhelmed because morning sickness is taking over your pregnancy? Do you dread waking up each day just knowing that you’ll never feel comfortable, no matter what you do? If so, then it’s time to take control and get the relief from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) that you need. Because HG isn’t just “morning sickness” — it’s an overwhelming experience that can last through your entire pregnancy if left untreated. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how recognizing HG differently helps diagnose its unique challenges earlier, offering more options for treatment to find relief.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a relatively common complication that takes place during pregnancy. It is a more severe form of morning sickness. On average, as much as 80 percent of women report having suffered from at least a mild form of morning sickness. Though common, morning sickness and its symptoms tend to reduce or disappear around the 12th week of gestation. There are at least 60,000 cases of severe morning sickness reported every year.

Though hyperemesis gravidarum and morning sickness are both complications of pregnancy, they result in widely varied symptoms for each woman. Some shared symptoms are an aversion to certain odors and foods, sensitivity to motion and fatigue. In order to treat each condition properly, it is important to distinguish one from the other.

Hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms can be harmful to the health of the fetus and the mother. The constant vomiting and inability to eat can lead to a deficiency of minerals and vitamins. Dehydration is also a common symptom that is a result of frequent vomiting. Many women have reported that they experience an excessive amount of salivation which is called ptyalism. Increased pulse rate and rapid heartbeat are also symptoms linked with hyperemesis gravidarum.

When the body starts to burn existing body fat instead of consumed sugars, it is considered as being in a state of ketosis. Hyperemesis gravidarum reduces calorie intake significantly, which can cause the body to go into ketosis. As a result, a woman suffering from HG may have “keto breath”.

How Long Does Hyperemesis Gravidarum Last?

It’s difficult to predict how long HG will last in a particular pregnancy. Each woman’s experience with HG may be different, and each pregnancy can also vary. It depends on the severity of their condition, the treatment received, and their body’s ability to cope. Some women experience relief within a few weeks by changing their diet, while others may need to be hospitalized for the more severe form of HG. It is essential to seek medical treatment early as it can help to reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of HG.

Morning Sickness vs. Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Morning sickness is usually characterized by vomiting and nausea. It starts around the 4th week of gestation and ends around the 13th week. Morning sickness can cause a loss of appetite, fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell. Vomiting due to morning sickness, however, won’t generally cause dehydration. Depending on the severity, it can make completing regular tasks difficult.

Half of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness. The condition isn’t harmful to the fetus or the mother and is caused by an increase in the concentration of certain hormones during gestation.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, however, presents with extreme nausea, weight loss, vomiting and a disturbance of the electrolytes in the body. A loss of appetite early in pregnancy can be a sign of HG or regular morning sickness. Some women may need to be hospitalized due to HG so nutrients and fluids can be provided intravenously. Hyperemesis gravidarum usually starts around the 5th week of gestation and will either subside by the 20th week or continue up until birth.

Those who present with emesis, which is vomiting, during pregnancy will be checked for other ailments. Getting a stomach virus during pregnancy is not uncommon and can also be a cause of vomiting. After morning sickness has been ruled out, a doctor may test for ketones in urine during pregnancy to rule out diabetes.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Symptoms

Several of the symptoms of hyperemesis gravadium have interconnections. For example, nausea can cause a loss of appetite and vomiting can cause a headache, but both loss of appetite and headache are symptoms of hyperemesis gravadium. Therefore, if you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

Stomach Upset

The most common physical symptom of hyperemesis gravadium is constant (or near constant) nausea, vomiting, vomiting blood and a loss of appetite.

Persistent vomiting and vomiting blood are both very serious, and you should seek medical attention if you experience this.

Physical Distress

Dizziness, headache and fatigue are common symptoms of hyperemesis gravadium. Since they are unable to keep food or fluids down, the body relies on its reserves, which can leave a person feeling drained. It’s essential to get enough rest and seek help if necessary.


Dehydration is a serious condition for anyone, but can be more dangerous for those who are pregnant. It can be caused by excessive vomiting and electrolyte loss as well as through insufficient water consumption.

The sub-symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Urinating less often
  • Dark or strong-smelling urine

Your pharmacist can help with dehydration, though if you are concerned or have been feeling this way for a prolonged period you should seek medical attention.

Weight Loss

The persistent vomiting and nausea that come with HG usually last until at least the 20th week of gestation. The disorder has varying degrees of severity and, in many cases, it can cause serious amounts of weight loss. Many have lost more than 5 percent of their pre-pregnancy weight while dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum.

Ketosis and Acidosis

Ketones are substances that produce when the body breaks down fat to produce energy. Women with HG may have high levels of ketones in their urine, indicating the body’s depletion of energy reserves. Acidosis can occur due to high levels of ketones, making it challenging for the body to balance the pH levels. This can lead to further complications such as kidney damage and electrolyte imbalances.

Psychological Distress

The constant nausea and vomiting associated with HG can take a toll on a woman’s mental health. It can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. Women may also feel frustrated due to the lack of control over their symptoms, leading to a sense of helplessness.

Symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Causes of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

The exact cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is not known, but there are studies that link the disorder to hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels. The placenta generates hCG when a woman becomes pregnant and the levels increase as the pregnancy progresses.

There are several factors that increase the risk of developing HG, such as multiple fetuses, obesity, trophoblastic disease or simply it being the first pregnancy or having a family history of HG.

There are some studies that state an imbalance of hormones may be the cause, or even due to an imbalance of the body’s carbohydrate metabolism. Helicobacter pylori infections have been known to trigger the onset of HG in some women.

A lesser held, but equally researched hypothesis suggests that hyperemesis gravidarum may be an evolutionary response. Some women are genetically predisposed to malnutrition, dehydration and hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy.

Thanks to modern medicine, the disorders are no longer fatal. However, it was a common cause of maternal and fetal fatality until the 1950s.

What Helps Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Stay Hydrated

One of the essential things to do if you have HG is to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a significant risk, and it can be extremely difficult to keep fluids down with constant nausea and vomiting. You can try sipping water slowly or taking small bites of ice chips to stay hydrated. If plain water isn’t appealing, you can also try eating water-rich fruits like watermelon, grapes, or cucumbers.

Change Your Diet

Sometimes tweaking your diet by avoiding certain foods that trigger nausea and vomiting can help manage the HG. Try avoiding spicy, fatty, or greasy foods, and instead, opt for bland foods like crackers or toast. Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day can also help.

Take Prenatal Vitamins

Many women find that their nausea and vomiting get worse when taking prenatal vitamins. However, getting the necessary nutrients is crucial during pregnancy. Some women have found relief by taking their vitamins before bed or switching to a different brand. Talk to your doctor and see if they can recommend a prenatal vitamin that might work better for you.

Those who suffer from HG will need to follow a specialized meal plan once their symptoms are under control. Plain fluids in small portions throughout the day. Meals that are high in carbohydrates and have minimal levels of fat are recommended. Instead of taking fewer large meals, it’s best if those suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum consume several miniature meals throughout the day.

Hyperemesis gravidarum can be emotionally and mentally traumatic to both the woman and her family. Counseling is to help pregnant women cope with the stress and complications that arise as a result of HG.  Keep in mind that medical attention requires to help manage this condition. Taking medicine while pregnant should only be done under the care of a medical professional.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Treatment

Once hyperemesis gravidarum been in the process of diagnosing, the severity will also need to be on assessment. If the symptoms are extreme, it will lead to urgent hospitalization to help restore the electrolytes lost. A medical professional will provide fluids, nutrients and other medications intravenously to correct dehydration and malnutrition. HG often results in vitamin deficiency. In most cases, a doctor will prescribe supplements to help correct the issue. Vitamin C, vitamin B6 and thiamine are a crucial part of the supplement regimen. Thiamine will help prevent Wernicke’s encephalopathy from developing in women who are suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Medication

In the event that passive measures are not effective, a doctor may prescribe an antiemetic medication, which helps to reduce vomiting. Other common medications used to help with nausea and vomiting are promethazine, meclizine and doxylamine succinate. They are to be intravenously or via a suppository administer. Once vomiting has been controlled, enteral nutritional supplements will be prescribed to reduce the occurrence of nausea.

In severe cases of HG, doctors may prescribe corticosteroids like prednisolone. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system, which can reduce nausea and vomiting. However, these drugs have side effects like elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and mood swings. Women who consume corticosteroids need to be regularly on review by their doctor.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Death Rate

Although HG is a serious condition that requires treatment, deaths from the condition are rare. According to a study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the incidence of maternal deaths due to HG is relatively low, at around 1-1.5 per 100,000 pregnancies. While this is still a concerning figure, it is important to note that maternal mortality as a whole is declining, thanks to improved medical care and treatment.

HG-related deaths are usually from severe complications, such as liver failure, pulmonary embolism, or sepsis. In rare cases, some women may suffer from cardiovascular collapse, which can be fatal. These complications can arise due to malnutrition, dehydration, or other factors related to HG. In some cases, HG may be accompanied by an underlying medical condition that further increases the risk of complications.

To reduce the risk of complications and prevent HG-related deaths, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. Treatment usually involves management of symptoms through lifestyle changes, medication, or intravenous fluids. In the most severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. To prevent HG, women should eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and avoid triggers such as certain smells or foods. It is also important to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

Supplements for Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Many herbs, vitamins, and minerals can help women experiencing HG. This article aims to provide a comprehensive list of supplements that can help alleviate HG symptoms, minimize harm to the developing fetus, and improve the experience of pregnancy. Before taking any supplements, please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to ensure safety and efficacy.

Pure Ginger Root Extract Powder

Ginger has been used for centuries as a natural treatment for various ailments. Ginger root is used as a spice in cooking and as an herbal supplement. The natural form is in to tea, or to chew, even to dissolve it in soft drinks. Its use in pill form or into a syrup for easier consumption.

Pure ginger root extract powder is an excellent way to help combat morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, motion sickness and an upset stomach. It is also an effective supplement for those suffering from HG. While ginger extract is generally safe, those who are taking diabetic medications and anti-blood clotting medications should speak with a medical professional as it is known to reduce its effectiveness. The dosage is 1,000 mg, once daily with a full glass of water.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a crucial nutrient that contributes to the formation of neurotransmitters and hormones. These supplements reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. A study conducted in 2012 revealed that women who took Vitamin B6 supplements experienced reduced hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms. Vitamin B6 is in meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and whole grains.


Magnesium is essential for a healthy pregnancy and can reduce HG symptoms. It is responsible for developing healthy bones and teeth, maintaining blood sugar levels, and building enzymes and proteins. Magnesium supplements can relieve constipation, muscle cramps, and headaches that are often present in severe cases of HG. Foods that contain Magnesium include dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, whole grains, spinach, and avocados.

Dandelion Root

Dandelion root is a herb that contains antioxidant properties. It promotes liver function by detoxifying the body. It also works as a diuretic, preventing water retention, and flushing toxins from the system. Dandelion root supplements can help alleviate HG symptoms by reducing nausea and vomiting and promoting liver function.

Pure Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound that helps to protect the body and is similar to an antioxidant. It is from red grape skin, but also from other red berries and peanuts. Pure resveratrol supplements can help control the symptoms of morning sickness and HG with minimal side effects.

Pregnant women who are taking blood thinners should speak with their doctor prior to taking this supplement to prevent a negative interaction. The dosage is 1 capsule,once daily with a meal. The supplement is more effective when taken in combination with a grape seed extract or with fresh grapes.

Green Tea Extract

Green tea has many benefits. It can help with weight loss, clear skin and even reduce stress. Another benefit green tea has it that it helps to reduce morning sickness and HG symptoms. Green tea extract contains caffeine, which has proven to help reduce the urge to vomit and the feeling of nausea that often comes with pregnancy.

Pregnant women should take care not to consume excessive amounts of green tea during pregnancy.

Green tea does contain caffeine, which can create health risks during pregnancy as well as have a negative effect on sleep patterns. Green tea can also limit the amount of folic acid your body absorbs, which is essential during pregnancy. The recommended dosage is no more than two capsules taken twice a day. It is important that you only consume green tea extract supplements in three-month intervals and in cooperation with your doctor.


Peppermint can be consumed or used as aromatherapy to treat various conditions including morning sickness, nausea and hyperemesis gravidarum. The leaves of the peppermint plant are an effective treatment. The plant itself is a mix between a spearmint plant and a water mint plant. The oil from the leaves can be used to create an aroma that helps to ease the senses and reduce vertigo, hunger, dizziness, vomiting and more. You can also take it orally to help combat upset stomach, morning sickness and other symptoms of HG. There are no side effects of consuming peppermint other than growing tired of the taste over time. The dosage is 700 mg, twice daily.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately for some women, the pregnancy journey becomes much more difficult due to hyperemesis gravidarum. The symptoms can reduce quality of life to the point where attending work, social events or even managing the smallest tasks are impossible. HG can even affect families and relationships on a deeper emotional level due to the strain involved with poor health, constant vomiting and extreme nausea.

HG can often result in weight loss, dental issues and general fatigue. Children who are born to a woman who has suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy tend to be underweight or born early. While there are no sufficient studies that show the long-term effects of the HG on the child, some reports exist. Less than 10 percent of women who suffered from hyperemesis that caused extreme weight loss have reported children that have gone on to exhibit behavioral problems or other psychological issues.

Living with HG can be a challenging and stressful experience, but the good news is that there are natural remedies that can make a difference. Herbal, vitamins, and minerals are safe and effective ways to alleviate HG symptoms and improve the pregnancy experience. With the guidance of your health care provider and the use of supplements such as ginger, vitamin B6, magnesium, dandelion root, and vitamin B6, managing Hyperemesis Gravidarum can become easier, allowing you to enjoy your pregnancy with less discomfort.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: Ryan Quigley
Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.