A hiccup (also spelled hiccough) is an involuntary contraction (myoclonic jerk) of the diaphragm that may repeat several times per minute. The hiccup is an involuntary action involving a reflex arc. Once triggered, the reflex causes a strong contraction of the diaphragm followed about a quarter of a second later by closure of the vocal cords, which results in the "hic" sound.
|Other names||Singultus, hiccough, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF)|
Hiccups may occur individually, or they may occur in bouts. The rhythm of the hiccup, or the time between hiccups, tends to be relatively constant. A bout of hiccups generally resolves itself without intervention, although many home remedies are often used to attempt to shorten the duration. Medical treatment is occasionally necessary in cases of chronic hiccups.
Signs and symptomsEdit
A hiccup consists of a single or a series of breathing diaphragm spasms, of variable spacing and duration, and a brief (less than one half second), unexpected, shoulder, abdomen, throat, or full body tremor. Hiccups may present as an audible chirp, squeak, "hupp", or if controlled, a quick inhaling gasp, sigh, or sniff. They may also present as brief but distracting or painful interruptions in normal breathing, with sudden momentary pain of the throat, chest, or abdomen.
- Swallowing air excessively
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Hiatal hernia
- Rapid eating
- Carbonated beverages, alcohol, dry breads, and some spicy foods
- Opiate drug use
- Laughing vigorously or for a long time
Hiccups may be triggered by a number of common human conditions. In rare cases, they can be a sign of serious medical problems. In rare cases hiccups can be the sole symptom of myocardial infarction.
Pre-phrenic nucleus irritation of medullaEdit
Other known associationsEdit
- Although no clear pathophysiological mechanism has been described, hiccups is known to have been the initial symptom of Plasmodium vivax malaria in at least one documented case.
The Burping Reflex HypothesisEdit
A leading hypothesis is that hiccups evolved to facilitate greater milk consumption in young mammals. The coordination of breathing and swallowing during suckling is a complicated process. Some air inevitably enters the stomach, occupying space that could otherwise be optimally used for calorie rich milk.
The hypothesis suggests that the presence of an air bubble in the stomach stimulates the sensory (afferent) limb of the reflex through receptors in the stomach, esophagus and along the underside of the diaphragm. This triggers the active part of the hiccup (efferent limb), sharply contracting the muscles of breathing and relaxing the muscles of the esophagus, then closing the vocal cords to prevent air from entering the lungs. This creates suction in the chest, pulling air from the stomach up in to the esophagus. As the respiratory muscles relax the air is expelled through the mouth, effectively “burping” the animal.
There are a number of characteristics of hiccups that support this theory. The burping of a suckling infant may increase its capacity for milk more that 15-25%, bringing a significant survival advantage. There is a strong tendency for infants to get hiccups, and although the reflex persists throughout life it decreases as we age. The location of the sensory nerves that trigger the reflex suggest it is a response to a condition in the stomach. The component of the reflex that suppresses peristalsis in the esophagus while the airway is being actively blocked suggests the esophagus is involved. As well, hiccups are only described in mammals - the group of animals that share the trait of suckling their young.
An international respiratory research group composed of members from Canada, France, and Japan proposed that the hiccup is an evolutionary remnant of earlier amphibian respiration. Amphibians such as tadpoles gulp air and water across their gills via a rather simple motor reflex akin to mammalian hiccuping. The motor pathways that enable hiccuping form early during fetal development, before the motor pathways that enable normal lung ventilation form. Thus, the hiccup is evolutionarily antecedent to modern lung respiration.
Additionally, this group (C. Straus et al.) points out that hiccups and amphibian gulping are inhibited by elevated CO2 and may be stopped by GABAB receptor agonists, illustrating a possible shared physiology and evolutionary heritage. These proposals may explain why premature infants spend 2.5% of their time hiccuping, possibly gulping like amphibians, as their lungs are not yet fully formed.
The phylogenetic hypothesis may explain hiccups as an evolutionary remnant, held over from our amphibious ancestors. This hypothesis has been questioned because of the complexity of the mammalian hiccup reflex compared to the amphibian breathing reflex, the fact that it does not explain the reason for glottic closure, and because the very short contraction of the hiccup is unlikely to have a significant strengthening effect on the slow-twitch muscles of respiration.
Fetal intrauterine hiccups are of two types. The physiological type occurs prior to twenty-eight weeks after conception and tend to last five to ten minutes. These hiccups are part of fetal development and are associated with the myelination of the phrenic nerve, which primarily controls the thoracic diaphragm.
The phylogenetic and the burping hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. The phylogeny hypothesis explains how the hiccup reflex might have evolved, while the “Burping Hypothesis” explains why it would offer enough of an evolutionary advantage to persist and increase in complexity.
Hiccups are normally waited out, as any fit of them will usually pass quickly. Folkloric 'cures' for hiccups are common and varied, but no effective standard for stopping hiccups has been documented. Hiccups are treated medically only in severe and persistent (termed "intractable") cases.
Numerous medical remedies exist but no particular treatment is known to be especially effective, generally because of a lack of high-quality evidence. Many drugs have been used, such as baclofen, chlorpromazine, metoclopramide, gabapentin, and various proton-pump inhibitors. Hiccups that are secondary to some other cause, like gastroesophageal reflux disease or esophageal webs, are dealt with by treating the underlying disorder. The phrenic nerve can be blocked temporarily with injection of 0.5% procaine, or permanently with bilateral phrenicotomy or other forms of surgical destruction. Even this rather drastic treatment does not cure some cases, however.
Haloperidol, metoclopramide, and chlorpromazine are used in cases of intractable hiccups. Effective treatment with sedatives often requires a dose that renders the person either unconscious or highly lethargic. Hence, medicating with sedatives is only appropriate short-term, as the affected individual cannot continue with normal life activities while under their effect.
A vagus nerve stimulator has been used with an intractable case of hiccups. "It sends rhythmic bursts of electricity to the brain by way of the vagus nerve, which passes through the neck. The Food and Drug Administration approved the vagus nerve stimulator in 1997 as a way to control seizures in some patients with epilepsy."
There are many superstitious and folk remedies for hiccups, including headstanding, drinking a glass of water upside-down, being frightened by someone, breathing into a bag, eating a large spoonful of peanut butter and placing sugar on or under the tongue.
A simple treatment involves increasing the partial pressure of CO2 and inhibiting diaphragm activity by holding one’s breath or rebreathing into a paper bag. Other potential remedies suggested by NHS Choices include pulling your knees up to your chest and leaning forward, sipping ice-cold water and swallowing some granulated sugar.
Society and cultureEdit
American Charles Osborne had hiccups for 68 years, from 1922 to February 1990, and was entered in the Guinness World Records as the man with the longest attack of hiccups, an estimated 430 million hiccups. In 2007, Florida teenager Jennifer Mee gained media fame for hiccuping around 50 times per minute for more than five weeks. Christopher Sands, a Briton, hiccupped an estimated 10 million times in a 27-month period from February 2007 to May 2009. His condition, which meant that he could hardly eat or sleep, was eventually discovered to be caused by a tumor on his brain stem pushing on nerves causing him to hiccup every two seconds, 12 hours a day. His hiccups stopped in 2009 following surgery.
In Baltic, German, Hungarian, Indian, Romanian, Slavic, Turkish, and among some Tribes in Kenya for example the Luos folklore it is said that hiccups occur when the person experiencing them is being talked about by someone not present.
- Wilkes, Garry (2 August 2007). "Hiccups". eMedicine. Medscape. Retrieved 22 April 2009.
- "Hiccups". Home Remedies. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- "Hiccups". WebMD. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
- "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease". A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia. PubMed Health. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- Willis, FM (2003). "Chronic hiccups". Modern Drugs Discovery. 6 (6). Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Howes, D. (2012). "Hiccups: A new explanation for the mysterious reflex". BioEssays. 34 (6): 451–453. doi:10.1002/bies.201100194. PMC 3504071. PMID 22377831.
- "Hiccups Happen!" (PDF). University of Maryland Hospital for Children. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
- Lauterbach, E. C. (1999). "Hiccup and apparent myoclonus after hydrocodone: review of the opiate-related hiccup and myoclonus literature". Clinical Neuropharmacology. 22 (2): 87–92. doi:10.1097/00002826-199903000-00004. PMID 10202603.
- Milano, Meadow. "Causes of Hiccups". Livestrong. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
- Rueckert, Kamiar Kersten (January 2020). "Case Report: From Irregular Hiccups to Acute Myocardial Infarction" (PDF). The Permanente Journal - Kaiser Permanente. 24 (5): 1. doi:10.7812/TPP/20.180. PMID 33635776.
- "Hiccups: Causes". MayoClinic.com. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- Witoonpanich R, Pirommai B, Tunlayadechanont S (2004). "Hiccups and multiple sclerosis". Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand (Chotmaihet Thangphaet). 87 (10): 1168–71. PMID 15560692.
- Guadarrama-Conzuelo, F; Saad Manzanera, A D (1 September 2019). "Singultus as an Unusual Debut of Plasmodium vivax Malaria". Cureus. 11 (9): e5548. doi:10.7759/cureus.5548. PMC 6820320. PMID 31695971.
- Straus C, Vasilakos K, Wilson RJ, Oshima T, Zelter M, Derenne JP, Similowski T, Whitelaw WA (February 2003). "A phylogenetic hypothesis for the origin of hiccough". BioEssays. 25 (2): 182–188. doi:10.1002/bies.10224. PMID 12539245. S2CID 14200209.
- Kahrilas, P; Shi, G. (1997). "Why do we hiccup?". Gut. 41 (5): 712–713. doi:10.1136/gut.41.5.712. PMC 1891574. PMID 9414986.
- "Why we hiccup". BBC News. 6 February 2003.
- Porter, Robert S., ed. (2011). "Hiccups". The Merck Manual Online. Merck Sharp & Dohme.
- Moretto, Emilia N; Wee, Bee; Wiffen, Philip J; Murchison, Andrew G (31 January 2013). "Interventions for treating persistent and intractable hiccups in adults". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD008768. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd008768.pub2. PMC 6452787. PMID 23440833.
- Schaffer, Amanda (10 January 2006). "A Horrific Case of Hiccups, a Novel Treatment". New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2008.
- Odeh M, Bassan H, Oliven A (February 1990). "Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage". Journal of Internal Medicine. 227 (2): 145–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.1990.tb00134.x. PMID 2299306. S2CID 20742803.
- Engleman EG, Lankton J, Lankton B (December 1971). "Granulated sugar as treatment for hiccups in conscious patients". The New England Journal of Medicine. 285 (26): 1489. doi:10.1056/nejm197112232852622. PMID 5122907.
- Boswell, Wendy (25 March 2007). "MacGyver Tip: Cure hiccups with sugar". The People's Pharmacy (Lifehacker). Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- Klosowski, Thorin (30 January 2014). "The Two Mechanisms That Make Hiccup Cures Actually Work". Lifehacker Australia. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "Hiccups". NHS Choices. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
- "Definition of hiccup in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- In pictures | Guinness medical record breakers | Longest attack of hiccups. BBC News. Retrieved on 2 June 2013.
- "Survivor of 68-Year Hiccup Spell Dies". Omaha World-Herald (Sunrise ed.). 5 May 1991. p. 2.B.
- "Florida girl hiccuping again after returning to school". MSNBC. 16 March 2007. Archived from the original on 18 March 2007.
- "'Hiccup Girl' Jennifer Mee May Use Tourette's Defense, Says Lawyer". CBS News. 27 October 2010. Archived from the original on 1 January 2011.
- Britten, Nick (11 January 2010). "Singer who hiccupped 20 million times in three years cured after brain tumour surgery". Retrieved 13 January 2020 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- "A régi babonák napjainkban is élnek" (in Hungarian). ujszo.com. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
- Schersch, Ursula (17 November 2010). "Schluckauf: Wer denkt an mich?". derStandard.at (in German). Retrieved 3 April 2018.
- Provine, Robert R. Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond (Harvard University Press; 2012) 246 pages; examines the evolutionary context for humans
- Shubin, Neil (February 2008). "Fish Out of Water". Natural History. 117 (1): 26–31. INIST:19986878. – hiccup related to reflex in fish and amphibians.
|Look up hiccup in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- BBC News: Why we hiccup
- WIRED: The Best Cure for Hiccups: Remind Your Brain You’re Not a Fish
- Cymet TC (June 2002). "Retrospective analysis of hiccups in patients at a community hospital from 1995–2000". J Natl Med Assoc. 94 (6): 480–3. PMC 2594386. PMID 12078929.
- WebMD: Hiccups