Experiencing Hyperemesis Gravidarum With Epilepsy
Last updated: December 2022
Being pregnant can often mean morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting are in store. And sometimes, this escalates to the next level...
Hyperemesis gravidarum is no joke. Combining this with the need to take your seizure medication and sleep to help prevent seizures is very difficult.
What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
According to the American Pregnancy Association: "Hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance. Mild cases are treated with dietary changes, rest, and antacids. More severe cases often require a stay in the hospital so that the mother can receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line (IV)."1
My experience with hyperemesis gravidarum:
- I have been hospitalized 2 times for hyperemesis gravidarum.
- I have consistent nausea, and at times, hours of vomiting or dry heaving. Due to this I now have a Zofran pump. (This device hooks up to my tummy to give me continual Zofran medication.)
- Additionally, my neurologist and I moved up our appointment to ensure I am still getting my adequate amount of medication and sleep.
When an epilepsy warrior is sick for any reason and vomiting is the issue, being vigilant about your care plan with your doctor is important. I am grateful that I have been with such a great neurologist and that he helped me understand my seizure medication even better.
This is how we handled my current (but temporary) diagnosis.
Addressing risks of vomiting up my epilepsy medication
We reviewed the current dosage of my medication. We then spoke about if I needed to be on extended-release for my Lamotrigine or whether to the medicine as is. The reason we briefly discussed extended-release is due to my vomiting schedule. The pattern, typically, is I will vomit in the afternoon and evening. The thought was that if I take a morning extended-release, then I will lessen my chance of vomiting up my medication.
In the end, we decided to stay with my current prescription of 2 times a day. This has been a great discission since my sickness schedule has become inconsistent.
We also spoke about what I should do if I was to vomit up my medication immediately. This decision I want to keep to myself. The reason is, I don't want anyone to take my care plan as a good idea for their care plan. You must discuss your needed actions with your care team.
Additionally, we continued to monitor my Lamotrigine level through blood work. And neurologist also messages and updates my OB doctor through a mutual portal that they share. So they're both on the same page.
Increasing my sleep to prevent seizures
I also worked on getting more sleep during this time. To improve my sleep, I took melatonin each night. I was taking Unisom (doxylamine) during the night. Unisom is known to be a sleep aid and to help with nausea. However, when I'd wake up in the middle of the night, I had trouble falling back asleep. I have not had this problem with melatonin.
I also took mnaps. I have a toddler. When she naps, I nap. It's made a big difference.
How do you handle excessive vomiting?
My experience with hyperemesis gravidarum has been a hard road so far. However, creating my care plan with my neurologist has helped prevent any breakthrough seizures. What about you: how do you handle excessive vomiting?
Always remember, you are not alone.
Do you have epilepsy? Or are you caring for someone with epilepsy?
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