Hiccups and cancer

Hiccups happen when the diaphragm, which is the predominant muscle used in breathing, contracts uncontrollably and frequently between regular breaths, followed by the familiar ‘hic’ sound. Most people experience hiccups every once in a while. Hiccups are generally innocuous and usually disappear without any intervention or special treatment. 

However, when cancer patients suffer from hiccups as a direct result of cancer or as a result of a side-effect of certain cancer treatments, hiccups can continue for a while. Persistent hiccups that last for more than a couple of days may hinder eating, sleeping, and breathing. Therefore, they can cause fatigue, weight-loss, and diminish the quality of life. 

What Can You Do? 

Our Belong users that discussed this issue in various community groups, suggest some home remedies, such as sucking on a lemon wedge, sipping lemonade or, as surprising as it may seem – a shot of pickle juice. 

Others recommend drizzling sugar over the tongue and letting it dissolve slowly. Some other practices include gargling or breathing in and out of a paper bag. Plenty of additional ideas, some are more bizarre than others are available online. Patients with persistent hiccups need to discuss this issue with their health care team. The doctor or nurse can recommend OTC medications or suggest prescription drugs to treat the hiccups.