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Hiccups —A few ways to manage it.

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Hiccups —They often appear out of the blue and are transient in nature — yet sometimes they decide to stay past their welcome.Now we are tasked with evicting an unwelcome guest!

A hiccup is a powerful and involuntary spasm of the muscle at the base of the lungs known as your diaphragm, this is then followed by the rapid closure of your vocal cords.

Hiccups may last for a few hours, occasionally a day or two, and pose no more issue than being a nuisance. Hiccups That continuously occurs for more than two days and less than a month are known as persistent hiccups.

On rare occasions, hiccups persist even longer than a month or recur frequently over an extended period of time, these are known as intractable hiccups.

Why do we get the hiccups?

The etiology and pathophysiology of hiccups remain fluid and elusive. The National Institute of Health (NCBI) states that hiccups are caused by; gastric distention, spicy foods, and neural dysfunction that often resolve themselves without any treatment. Also implicated are chewing gum, smoking, alcohol, ingesting very hot substances soon after ingesting very cold, medications, and many other disease processes. Hiccups associated with certain diseases or those that occur as a consequence of surgery, or, are life-restricting should be treated.


The cause of hiccups should be quickly determined so the appropriate treatment can be administered.

The best treatment for persistent or intractable hiccups should be directed toward the specific known cause. If the hiccup is due to an infection, that can be treated, if due to brainstem lesions, or biochemical abnormalities they may all respond to treatment. Problems with inhalation and exhalation and the phrenic and vagus nerves may be implicated intractable hiccups.

Interesting fact: males are affected with issues of chronic hiccups than females.

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How is a diagnosis made?

Hiccups are usually diagnosed based on your verbal account of their presence, chest X-rays, electrocardiogram (EKG), lab tests, and radiology tests.

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Some treatments are:

  1. Holding your breath
  2. Being purposely frightened
  3. Drinking a glass of water continuously without pausing to breathe
  4. Inhaling pepper to induce sneezing
  5. Eating a lemon
  6. Breathing into a paper bag
  7. Splashing your face with cold water
  8. Peppermint (relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter)

Medical management:

  1. Anti-inflammatories
  2. Anti-psychotics
  3. Proton-pump inhibitors
  4. Steroids (in some instances only)
  5. Radiation (in the case of tumors for e.g.)

What can I do to prevent future attacks?

There is not much you can do to prevent suffering from hiccups in the future. If you are on a medical management program, continue management under the guidance of your care provider. For transient attacks of hiccups, try the home/anecdotal remedies listed above.

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Everyone gets hiccups sometimes. They annoy us briefly and pass quickly. When they persist they severely pose an issue to our activities of daily living impacting our lives negatively. Chronic hiccups can leave us; fatigued, with sleep disorders, dehydration, and depressed. Post-surgically, hiccuping can lead to poor wound healing due to constant pressure on the surgical site.

Often, persistent/intractable hiccups have no known etiology, therefore medical management is on a trial basis of wait and see. If they are persistent and bothersome, many medications as well as anecdotal options may provide relief or at best a respite.



Be Safe!

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Safe-guard Your Tongue

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How the effects of everyday habits impacts our health!

Life has many pleasures, some are good for us and some not so much. At every turn we are faced with making many decisions. We are constantly bombarded with what to eat, what to drink and so on. Growing up in a small underdeveloped country I saw firsthand the effects of alcohol abuse.

God has created so much for us to see, eat and enjoy. As with most things in life, in everything we have to practice moderation. Along with the many things we can enjoy there are some that has the propensity to cause us distress if we are not diligent.

When it comes to enjoyment, eating is one of the foremost ways that we enjoy life. We enjoy the many wonderful smells the world have to offer and make every effort to avoid the not so pleasant ones. Taste comes in several flavors, sweet, bitter, sour, salt and umami (savory). There are a few everyday items that can negatively alter or enjoyment and impact our taste buds.

Being overweight

Studies show a link between obesity and having a diminished sense of taste. This seems to encourage the person who is overweight to consume more calories thus the cycle of obesity continues. Obesity according to science is an inflammatory process and impacts the cell turnover of the tongue. The good news is that the process seems to be reversible with weight loss.

2. Smoking kills your taste buds

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Cigarette smoke is odious, yellowing our nails and our teeth, it causes gum disease, high blood pressure, strokes etc., and kills your taste buds. Reason being toxic chemicals in cigarettes influences the taste buds to lose their shape and flatten in a process known as vascularization. Vascularization causes your taste buds to become less inefficient at detecting flavors.

3. You nose may be the culprit

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Smell and taste go hand-in-hand therefore your taste buds function by detecting flavors via your nose and tongue. In fact, it’s thought that up to ninety (90%) percent of our sense of taste is closely tied with our ability to smell. For this reason when your nose is congested it diminishes the way your food taste. So if you are not suffering from a cold and you’re still experiencing a dull sense of taste you need to have it evaluated ASAP. If your taste buds are not be the problem your sense of smell could be. Aging, neurovascular conditions, Alzheimer’s — diseases of the head and neck as well as many other diseases alters our sense of taste.

4. Too much sugar in your diet

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Experts have always cautioned us on the use of too much sugar. Routine overindulge in sugary foods and drinks. Too much sugar actually dulls the perception of sugar. What that means is that over time you have to consume more and more sugar to get the same pleasure from eating it. Try to reduce your sugar consumption as much as possible.

5. Exposure to harsh chemical cleaners

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If like me you love a clean home and use/used harsh chemical cleaners that could have negative effects on your ability to smell and taste. Did you know that some household cleaners are quite toxic. Strong cleaners like bleach for example can affect the delicate lining and sensory cells in the nose, especially when cleaning small, unventilated areas, e.g., bathroom. Some exposure will not necessarily cause permanent damage but continuous and prolonged exposure will eventually destroy the cells in the nasal passage and your taste buds.

6. Excessive alcohol intake

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We all know that too much of any one thing is not good for us. Many people enjoy a glass of wine, beer or the spirits, but excessive intake of alcoholic beverages can affect your sense of taste. One of the ways alcohol damages your taste is by causing numbing effect to the taste buds. Studies have shown that if your taste buds are really sensitive to ‘bitter’ you are less likely to overindulge in alcohol.

Final thoughts:

Life is for living and though there is much to eat, drink and do, we are tasked with taking the responsibility for our health by way of our choices. So take care, eat and drink in moderation while maintaining an awareness of what may cause an unwanted consequences to your health. In safe guarding your most important attribute — your health, you can enjoy all the pleasant taste and smells for a long time to come.

Take care and be well. God bless you all!