We all know what hiccups are, and we have all experienced them at one time or another. They consist of a series of involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. This causes the vocal cords to close, causing the typical funny sound. However, chronic hiccups are not something to laugh at.
Chronic hiccups are a rare disease. In fact, researchers suggest that only 1 in 100,000 people suffer from this condition. This condition causes these contractions to recur for periods of more than 48 hours.
Suffering from chronic hiccups can be a sign of another illness. It can therefore be difficult to treat it without first eliminating the underlying condition. In the article below we will tell you everything you need to know about this issue.
What are the causes of chronic hiccups?
As we have already mentioned, chronic hiccups are the type of hiccups that last for several days or weeks at a time. Patients alternate between periods when they experience hiccups and periods when they do not. In most cases, however, hiccup episodes occur several times during the same month.
This pathology is often a consequence of another disease located in the digestive tract. It is often located in the esophagus and stomach, which are the two organs that are most in contact with the diaphragm. Experts in particular believe that acid reflux due to gastroesophageal reflux is one of the main causes.
Acid reflux from gastroesophageal reflux is a condition that causes damage to the esophagus. This damage is caused by acid from the stomach rising and eroding the walls of the esophagus. There are many factors that affect gastroesophageal reflux, including food, tobacco and hot foods.
Although chronic hiccups can be caused by a number of conditions, men are more prone to this condition than women. It seems that stress and anxiety can also be triggers.
What other causes of chronic hiccups are there?
Since chronic hiccups consist of involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, it is important to remember that any nerve damage that affects this muscle can cause this condition. First and foremost , it may be due to a brain injury in the area that causes the reflex.
The most common diseases that damage involuntary motor nerves are meningitis and multiple sclerosis. Experts have also observed that chronic hiccups can be a symptom of a brain tumor or the aftermath of a cerebrovascular accident or stroke.
Damage to the nerves that control the impulse towards the diaphragm can also be a trigger. These nerves, called the phrenic nerve , help the central nervous system to communicate with the abdominal muscle. Parts of the nerve pass through the neck and thorax. It is therefore important to rule out diseases in this area.
Finally, it is important to point out that chronic hiccups can also be a side effect of certain medications. In fact, it can also occur after anesthesia or surgery. Alcoholics or people who are addicted to sedatives can also suffer from this condition.
Is there a way to treat it?
The treatment of this pathology is based on addressing the underlying causes that cause it. In other words, if the cause is gastroesophageal reflux, the most important step is to treat this disease. Your doctor may therefore recommend antacids to regulate the pH of your stomach.
However, experts have also discovered the benefits of certain medications that can be used to treat this condition on their own. Chlorpromazine and metoclopramide are drugs that treat chronic hiccups directly. The former is an antipsychotic drug, and the latter is used to relieve nausea.
If none of the above works, doctors may consider resorting to surgical techniques to treat chronic hiccups. The surgery consists of blocking the phrenic nerve to adjust the nerve impulse that contracts the diaphragm.
The biggest problem with chronic hiccups
It is important to remember that this is a very inhibiting problem. They affect all parts of the person’s life and can even make it difficult or impossible to sleep. When it comes to treatment, it is therefore important to also offer psychological support.
We are not talking about classic hiccups that last a short time before it disappears. People with chronic hiccups may experience episodes that last for several days at a time. They must therefore adapt their lives to this condition and demand support and help from the people around them.