31 August 2018

Hiccups for a month? It can happen

Intractable hiccups (hiccups lasting for a month or more) are associated with underlying medical conditions.

Short-lasting hiccups are annoying enough, but some people get hiccups that last longer than a month or more.

Hiccups for life

The longest recorded case? An Iowa farmer had hiccups continually for 69 years and nine months, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

In most cases, persistent hiccups (two days or more) and intractable hiccups (a month or more) are associated with underlying medical conditions, two neurologists write in a new journal article.

These chronic hiccups interfere with eating, socialising and sleeping, and can have a serious impact on a patient's quality of life, two neurologists write in a new journal article.


Each year in the United States, about 4 000 people are hospitalised for hiccups. Men account for 91% of those with intractable hiccups, and most are over age 50, said Dr Stasia Rouse and Dr Matthew Wodziak, of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.

Common triggers of hiccups include drinking carbonated drinks, eating a large meal, anxiety and stress, alcohol, spices, smoking or other digestive or respiratory tract irritants, they say.

Intractable hiccups often have underlying causes. For example, one patient's hiccups were traced to arthritis in the joint connecting the collar bone to the breast bone. Another patient's hiccups were linked to blood clots in the lungs. Certain drugs also can trigger hiccups, Rouse and Wodziak wrote.

Because there are no formal guidelines on treating intractable hiccups, many doctors rely on their own experience or anecdotal evidence.

Some doctors treat hiccups with various medications. Other remedies may include hypnosis, acupuncture and swallowing granulated sugar.

Their report was published recently in the journal Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports.

Image credit: iStock




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