ZocdocAnswersMy hiccups are becoming painful, what should I do?

Question

My hiccups are becoming painful, what should I do?

For the past four years, I've had the hiccups, if you could call them that. I'll randomly breathe in and then not be able to exhale, and it feels a lot like a hiccup. They tend to be more frequent after I eat no matter how fast or slow, or how small the food i consumed it was. They are starting to get pretty painful, and I'm worried that it might be something serious.

Answer

I cannot tell from your description whether or not your symptoms are due to hiccups and I recommend that you schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist. The description of having difficulty breathing out after you inhale is not typically the way people describe hiccups. Nevertheless, I will discuss some information about hiccups that I think might help you. First of all, hiccups that are ongoing should always be worked up by a physician. This is because they can represent irritation of the phrenic nerve which is the nerve the controls the diaphragm. When the phrenic nerve gets irritated, it contracts involuntarily causing the diaphragm to contract which results in a sudden exhale of hair air which we refer to as a hiccup. The phrenic nerve can be irritated for a variety of reasons, but when the hiccups are transient there's no reason to investigate. However when they are ongoing the first step is always to get a chest x-ray to look for a lesion that could be pressing up against the phrenic nerve. Some physicians will also get a CT scan of the chest just to make sure. If nothing is found, then your hiccups could be treated with medications. One medication that works well as is something called thorazine which can be used to stop hiccups on occasion. Is not a medication without side effects and thus should not be used unless it's absolutely needed. I think the best physician for you to see for this problem is a pulmonologist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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