Hiccups are also known as Singultus. This word is derived from the Latin word Singult, which means “the act of catching one’s breath while sobbing.”
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Hiccups are seen more commonly in males. Males (82 %) are affected more than females with a ratio of up to 4:1. Persistent intractable hiccups are rare and affect both males and females equally. Females develop hiccups more frequently during early adulthood than males of the same age and are supposed to be due to some mental conditions.
The normal rate is 4-60 hiccups/minute with regular intervals. Males over age 50 are more likely to have intractable hiccups than females.
It is basically a spasm or an unintentional movement of the diaphragm or thin muscle which is separated the chest from the abdomen. The diaphragm is a muscle that is present at the base of the lungs. After the spasm, there is quick closing of the vocal cords (which are responsible for voice). Diaphragm is the
Hiccups occur when there is a sudden tightening of the diaphragm which causes a sudden intake of breath. This sudden rush of air into the lungs causes a distinct “hic” sound.
- If hiccups are continuously seen beyond 48 hours, it is said to be persistent.
- If the episodes of hiccups are longer than 2 months then it is known as intractable.
- Hiccups usually start in a social situation like laughing, talking, eating, and drinking particularly alcohol.
Causes of Hiccups
In general, hiccups occur without any reason and disappear in few minutes. If hiccups last for days, weeks, or months they indicate some serious disease.
- Hiccups can occur in many conditions, like:
- It can be seen after any abdominal surgery.
- It is seen in patients with pneumonia or pleurisy.
- It is seen after eating hot and spicy foods or taking any liquid.
- It is often seen in some individuals who are sensitive to fumes.
- It can be seen after stroke or tumor present in the brain as these conditions can block the blood supply in the brain.
- Any space-occupying lesion in the brain
Other conditions that can lead to Hiccups:
- Brain injury may result in an intractable hiccup
- Conditions like gall bladder disease, lobar pneumonia, pericarditis, diaphragmatic pleurisy
- Conditions like uremia (waste products that accumulate in the blood when the kidneys malfunction), pancreatitis, pregnancy, bladder irritation, and hepatitis
- Diseases like herpes zoster, cerebral aneurysm, neuromyelitis optica, oesophageal cancer, and stomach volvulus
- Drugs used in the treatment of various disease like Parkinson, steroids, chemotherapy, and anesthetic agents used during operations
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Herpes infection
- Kidney disorders
- Mental disorders like hysteria, shock, fear, and personality disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myocardial ischemia
- Procedures like bronchoscopy and tracheotomy may lead to serious hiccups
- Psychological disorders, personality disorder, conversion reaction, hysterical neurosis, anorexia nervosa, sudden shock and grief reaction can lead to the development of persistent intractable hiccups
- Some medicines used for anxiety, high blood pressure, and seizures
- Use of central venous catheter up to right ventricle of heart may lead to hiccup
- Use of propofol before operations can lead to a repeated hiccup inpatient
Symptoms of Hiccups
Sudden brief, unexpected jerky movements of the shoulder, abdomen, and throat. A patient can have tremors in the whole body.
A patient can have short duration pain along with a frequent or occasional disturbance in a normal breath. Pain can also be seen in the throat, chest, or abdomen.
Hiccup which ends after some duration occurs as a result of rapid distension of the stomach. Some other causes are-
- After excessive smoking.
- After taking a cold water shower.
- Consumption of alcohol.
- Drinking carbonated drinks.
- Eating spicy food.
- Eating too fast.
- Hot or cold drinks.
- Sudden change in food temperature.
Complications of Severe Hiccups
- Defective nutrition
- Loss of weight
- Irregular heartbeat
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Difficulty in sleeping
Death Diagnosis of Hiccups
- Chest x-ray
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Fluoroscopy of the diaphragm
How to Control Hiccups? Some Home Remedies for Hiccups
- If the patient has persistent hiccups, he should breathe repeatedly into a paper bag.
- Try to drink a glass of cold water.
- Eat a teaspoon (4 gms) of sugar.
- Try to hold your breath.
- Pulling off the tongue, sneezing, sipping of iced water, milk, or eating ice cream.
- Kapalbhati pranayama, bharstika, and anulom vilom are useful.
- Yogasana in which compressing the diaphragm by pulling the knees up to the chest and trying to touch the knee with the nose tip is helpful.
- Swallowing a large amount of water while closing the nose and ears, and a sudden fright situation is also helpful.
Homeopathic Management for Hiccups
It is suited to a person which is very jealous and he is afraid of being poisoned. The patient in general is very weak and twitching of muscles is seen. He is very talkative and is very quarrelsome. The patient sometimes uncovers himself and looks very foolish. He laughs every time. The patient has low muttering speech which is difficult to understand. It is a very good remedy for hiccough which is seen with empty eructations which at times bitter. It cures vomiting with convulsions. It is given when a patient has violent pain in the abdomen which is better by vomiting.
- The patient feels worse at night, during menses, after eating, when lying down.
- The patient feels better by stooping.
- Dosage: 30, 2 times a day for 15 days.
It is a very good remedy for anemic and cholera-like conditions. It is suited to a person who has depression with sobbing. The patient has a desire to be alone. It is a very good remedy for vertigo with flickering before eyes and sensation as if things turn in a circle. It is given when a patient has a hiccough: like eructations. This is worse after taking fatty food. It cures diarrhea which is seen after every cup of coffee. The patient feels full after eating only some food. The patient has a desire for lemon and has no thirst all day. It cures hiccough during pregnancy.
- The patient feels worse in the open air, evenings, from sitting, from standing, and from cold water.
- The patient feels better during menses, rubbing parts.
- Dosage: 3x, 2 times a day for 10 days.
It is suited to a person who is thin, quick in giving a reaction, irritable and nervous, and indulged in a modern lifestyle. He is indulged in various kinds of addiction like drinking coffee and wine. He is very irritable. He cannot bear noises, odors, and light. A patient does not want to be touched. His time passes too slowly. This medicine should be given when sour taste and nausea in the morning and after eating. The patient feels worse after eating. It cures a hiccup of gastric disturbances. The patient wants to vomit but cannot.
The patient feels worse in the morning, from mental exertion, after eating, touch, from taking spices and stimulants, dry weather, cold.
The patient feels better from a nap if allowed to finish it, in the evening, while resting in damp wet weather.
Dosage: 30, 4 pellets, every 4 hours in the day until improvement.
It is given to a person who a paralytic weakness. It cures hiccough of every kind. It cures back pain with sciatica and rheumatism.
Dosage: Q, 2 times a day for 10 days.
It is given to patients who have a weak memory and very sensitive to noise. They don’t want to do any work. It is a very good remedy for hiccough, nausea with vomiting of bitter mucus. It cures burning in stomach heartburn from sweet things. The patient has ravenous hunger around 11 a.m.
- The patient feels worse from touch, between 5 to 7 p.m., after taking dinner.
- The patient feels better while eating.
- Dosage: 2x, 4 pellets, 2 times a day for 10 days.