My household has had hiccups. The cats hiccup. The dog hiccups. We hiccup. This means that we are all experiencing from time to time repetitive spasms of our diaphragms. The sound we hear is the uncontrolled diaphragm movement. Spasm caused a contraction forcing a rush of air into our lungs stopping at our vocal cords which then close and we “hic.” We have always been fortunate that they pass fairly quickly. My dad, years ago, suffered a hiccup bout for 18 hours requiring a visit to the ER due to exhaustion and soreness. However, he did not win a Guiness Book entry as that went to Charles Osborne of Iowa who suffered from intractable hiccups for 68 years (1922-1990). Nor did dad have the record for fastest hiccup repetitions; that was awarded in 2007 to Florida’s Jennifer Mee for hiccuping 50 times per minute for 5 weeks. By the way, Ms. Mee, known as the “Hiccup Girl,” was arrested for murder in 2010. Oh, and men tend to suffer from long term hiccups more so than women, and even babies in the womb can have hiccups.
Causes I’ve found on the web include sodas, alcohol, spicy foods, tummy ache and tummy surgery, sucking in too much air all at once, fatty foods, pneumonia, lung and liver disorders, being too full, drinking something hot followed by something cold, stress, excitement, reflux, etc.
A few common tried and maybe true remedies:
Breath into a paper bag and supposedly the buildup of carbon dioxide will stop spasms.
Have someone pop that bag and scare you.
Drink water while upside down; I have not attempted this as I think my nose would dispute this as a reasonable attempt to stop hiccups.
Drink a glass of water very quickly.
Drink a teaspoon of vinegar.
Pull your tongue hard, to stimulate and ultimately relax your vagus nerve .
Hold your breath for a while.
Put one-half teaspoon of sugar on or under your tongue.
Suck on a bitter lemon.
Whiff smelling salts.
When should you call the doctor?
If the hiccups are associated with a treatment, your doctor may want to know it is happening. If you have fever, nausea, breathing problems, coughing up blood, or feel that your throat is restricting, call. If they seem to become intractable or never ceasing, call too.
Puppies grow fast; puppies in particular get the hiccups! If they last less than 30 minutes and do not involve other issues such as vomiting, let them ease away on their own knowing your dog or puppy is fine. If you can’t stand it and feel an unrelenting urge to intervene, perhaps these might help the dog, and you:
Distract the dog; give him a treat; offer water; take the dog for a walk; startle the dog. My dog hates to be startled and I would definitely not try this on him ever.
Their sound may be different, but the diaphragm spasm is similar. After eating, cats may hiccup, especially, if they gulp down food, and air, too quickly. Their hiccups generally pass fairly quickly.
If your cat is distressed or the problem continues, call your vet. Hiccups can be caused by a problem with the cat’s throat. Or, your cat may be trying to upchuck something caught in its throat.
As I write this there is a 5 or 6 foot long alligator in the pond in my backyard. Reminds me of the children’s verse called Alligator Hiccups, which I easily found online. It is all about Miss Lucy’s baby, Tiny Tim, who tried to drink all the bath water, soap, etc. and it stuck in his throat. A doctor and a nurse were called to help, along with a lady with an alligator purse. The lady alone said it was “Hiccups.” Then “Out went the doctor. Out went the nurse. Out went the lady with the alligator purse.”
And with that, I am out of here, to see my family, the dog, the cats, and the alligator, but not to make a purse!