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NBC4: What is extreme morning sickness?

Actress/comedian Amy Schumer is pregnant with her first child and was recently hospitalized with extreme morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).  She's since been released from the hospital and has returned to work.  So what is HG?

Stu Jones, MD, an OB/GYN and director of the OhioHealth Women’s Health Clinical Guidance Council, says that while about 80% of women experience traditional morning sickness, only 1-2% experience HG. HG can feel 10 times worse than morning sickness.

Symptoms of HG can include:

  • Extreme nausea
  • Vomiting – even of liquids
  • Weight loss
  • Light sensitivity
  • Headaches

“If you go for a couple of days without being able to keep food down or fluids down, you want to call your doctor,” Dr. Jones told NBC4 anchor Darlene Hill. “We don’t want to get behind on this because it’s harder to catch up.”

Treatment for HG includes hospitalization so the patient can receive IV fluids to combat dehydration. If the patient cannot tolerate swallowing medications, she may also receive them through an IV. Small meals of bland foods are also beneficial.

Dr. Jones said any mother-to-be can be diagnosed with HG while pregnant – sometimes with each pregnancy like the United Kingdom’s Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton – others with just one of their pregnancies. For some women, HG can last throughout the duration of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, HG is not preventable and age is not a factor – any woman of childbearing age is susceptible.

“We think it’s the hormone level that’s creating it and for some women it just creates more of an issue than others,” said Dr. Jones.

OhioHealth offers personalized women’s health services for every stage of life. To find a physician near you and to learn more about our programs, click here.