HICCUP (Hiccough; Singultus)
Hiccups are repeated involuntary spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm. Hiccups are a symptom -- not a disease. The diaphragm (the big, thin muscle which separates the chest from the abdomen) and the phrenic nerve (the nerve that connects the diaphragm to the brain) are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications (prolonged hiccups).
Surgery to cut phrenic nerve (only severe, prolonged cases that have not responded to simpler measures).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
A sharp, quick sound produced from the mouth by a spasm of the diaphragm. The spasm closes muscles in the back of the throat during inhalation.
CAUSESSwallowing hot or irritating substances.
Diseases of the pleura (thin membrane layers that cover the lung).
Use of certain prescription or non-prescription drugs.
Disorders of the stomach, esophagus, bowel, or pancreas.
Spread of cancer from another part of the body to the liver or part of the pleura.
Recent surgery, especially abdominal surgery.
Irritation of nerves from the brain that control breathing muscles, especially the diaphragm. The cause of short hiccup episodes is usually unknown. Prolonged or recurrent hiccup episodes may be caused by:
RISK FACTORSIllness that has diminished health.
Recent abdominal surgery.
Use of drugs, especially those that irritate the stomach.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCECannot be prevented at present.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSNone unless your child's hiccups are prolonged, which may indicate serious disease.
Short hiccup episodes usually don't indicate disease. They will subside with the treatment discussed below. Continued hiccups can be debilitating and require medical attention to determine the cause.
HOME CAREThese instructions for your child are for short hiccup episodes. Prolonged hiccups require medical care.
Hold your breath and count to 10.
Breathe into a paper bag, and rebreathe air in the bag. Don't use a plastic bag because it may cling to nostrils.
Insert your thumb between your teeth and upper lip; press the upper lip with your index finger just below the right nostril.
Drink a glass of water rapidly.
Swallow dry bread or crushed ice.
Pull gently on the tongue.
Close eyelids and apply gentle pressure to the eyeballs.
Swallow a teaspoon of dry sugar.
MEDICATIONFor prolonged or recurrent hiccups, your doctor may prescribe a mild tranquilizer or sedative.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child's hiccups persist longer than 8 hours.
You suspect a prescription drug may be causing the child's hiccups.