From Discomfort to Distress: A Critical Analysis of Hyperemesis Gravidarum in the Emergency Room

Cureus. 2023 Aug 23;15(8):e44004. doi: 10.7759/cureus.44004. eCollection 2023 Aug.


Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe and debilitating condition characterized by persistent and excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP), often leading to significant maternal and fetal morbidity. This literature review aims to provide a scientifically comprehensive overview of HG within the context of the emergency room (ER) setting. This review aims to enhance understanding and improve the management of HG cases presented to the ER by synthesizing current knowledge and evidence-based practices. This literature review encompasses a systematic analysis of relevant scientific literature, encompassing original research studies, review articles, and clinical guidelines. An extensive search of electronic databases was conducted, covering the period from January 2003 to January 2023. Keywords related to HG, pregnancy-related complications, emergency medicine, and ER management were employed to identify pertinent publications. Through the literature review, we found the incidence of HG-related ER admission to be 0.8%. Although the etiology of HG remains to be unknown, a strong association was found between developing HG in pregnant females and a history of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, use of cannabis, and pregnancies conceived through artificial reproductive technology (ART). Furthermore, overweight females were more likely to develop HG. Maternal smoking was found to be protective against HG. The symptoms of HG mainly include intractable nausea and vomiting occurring usually between four and nine weeks of gestational age with a significant aversion to food and loss of weight. Diagnosis is done through a strong clinical suspicion, a history of HG in previous pregnancies, and a basic metabolic panel. Treatment includes intravenous (IV) fluids, antiemetic therapy, corticoids, thiamine supplements, and laxatives. In our review, we highlight a few complications that can be seen in HG through a synopsis of unique case reports found during our literature search. In conclusion, through this review, we wish to highlight HG as an obstetrical emergency. We aim to improve understanding, enhance early recognition, and promote evidence-based management strategies for HG in the emergency room. We hope that the findings presented herein will serve as a valuable resource for healthcare professionals, researchers, and policymakers involved in the care of pregnant females experiencing HG in the ER.

Keywords: emergency room; first trimester complications; hyperemesis gravidarum; nausea and vomiting; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review