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11 Things You Need To Know About Hyperemesis

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Remember those analogy questions from standardized tests? Well, they are still a useful way to make some distinctions. For instance, morning sickness is to hyperemesis gravidarum as a thunderstorm is to a violent typhoon. It's the same thing but only on a much larger scale. If you are even considering the possibility of becoming pregnant, there are some things you need to know about hyperemesis beforehand. Because this is one condition you do not want to take you by surprise.

First, some positive perspective: the severe morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is relatively rare, manageable, and temporary (even the worst cases end once you give birth). Chances are, none of your pregnancies will be affected by it, and you can get through your bouts of regular morning sickness with the reassuring (?) knowledge that it could be much, much worse. If none of the other women in your family have dealt with it, then you just might be in the clear.

But for the few women who do have to cope with hyperemesis — even Kate Middleton found herself among those numbers — the constant nausea and vomiting can be debilitating. Read on to know how to differentiate hyperemesis from morning sickness, what methods of treatment are available, and why the blandest foods on the planet may be your new favorite eats.

1. Kate Middleton Struggled With Hyperemesis

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Even royals have had a brush with the condition, as Kate Middleton famously suffered from hyperemesis. Although no one wants the beloved Duchess of Cambridge to struggle with such a nasty disease, her public battle with HG has perhaps helped to raise greater awareness about hyperemesis. Hopefully, by making knowledge of HG more mainstream, more women will not have to suffer through the condition with inadequate help.

2. It Is Not "Just Morning Sickness"

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Sure, there are plenty of jokes about pregnant women and morning sickness, but by all accounts hyperemesis is no laughing matter. (Not that regular morning sickness is a cake walk; it too can get pretty gnarly.) But hyperemesis takes this condition to the next level. As noted by Healthline, morning sickness generally lets up by the fourth month of pregnancy, whereas hyperemesis leads to symptoms of severe nausea and vomiting that will not subside. It is persistent.

3. Its Visibility Has Increased

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Plenty of women's health issues have historically been kept rather secret, but it looks like more and more information about these conditions has hit the mainstream. As an example, real-life accounts of hyperemesis have been featured in The Huffington Post and other prominent publications. And it has shown up in other areas of pop culture. For instance, the popular TV show Jane The Virgin featured a character who suffered from hyperemesis in its second season.

4. Hyperemesis Has No Cure

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Perhaps one day there will be a cure for all pains. But at this time, there does not appear to be any way to prevent hyperemesis from developing, as explained in the Cleveland Clinic. Unfortunately, it can only be managed.

5. Its Exact Cause Is Unknown

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Women who want to know the cause for HG will be sadly disappointed. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the exact cause of hyperemesis is unknown, although it is possibly hormonal in origin. More research into this area is still needed (although the idea of your body becoming violently ill from its own hormones may not be the most reassuring thought, either).

6. It May Be Hereditary

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Perhaps you've inherited your mother's hazel eyes or her megawatt smile. Well, it's possible you got some less than favorable genetics from her, too. According to Kids Health, hyperemesis may be hereditary because it appears more common among women whose close family members also suffer from the disease. But if there were ever something you didn't want to keep in the family, hyperemesis would be it.  

7. Hyperemesis Affects Less Than 2 Percent Of Pregnant Women

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HG is fairly rare. Although different reports vary, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) estimates the occurrence of hyperemesis gravidarum at around .5 to 2 percent of pregnant women. In contrast, according to the NORD, around 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women experience some form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. So the odds are high that you will experience some feelings of nausea, but not of the debilitating variety associated with hyperemesis.

8. Hospitalization May Be Required

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According to the American Pregnancy Association, severe cases of hyperemesis may require hospitalization to provide the mother-to-be with intravenous fluid and nutrition. Unfortunately, it's possible to get to the point where you can't keep anything down.

9. What You Eat May Affect Symptoms

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When it comes to things you should eat while suffering from hyperemesis, the operative word is bland. This is probably good news; chances are you don't want to dig into a bowl of spicy chili right now. Some typical safe foods for hyperemesis include dry toast, mashed potatoes, or bananas.

10. Medication May Help

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Some medical help may be available. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may receive anti-nausea medications if the condition get too bad.

11. It Is Temporary

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Although women in the throes of hyperemesis may feel as though they've been sick forever, it may help you to remember that the condition will not linger for the rest of your life. As noted in WebMD, all the symptoms of hyperemesis will one day stop, soon followed by the arrival of your new baby.