When was the last time did you get hiccups? Was it then when you were watching Vicky Kaushal on Uri and shouting “How’s the Josh? High Sir.”? How did you stop it? Did you drink a lot of water, or squeeze a lemon or did someone frighten you to stop your hiccups?

Hiccups are a common phenomenon and occur when you are too excited or having/had a large meal or carbonated beverages. It usually lasts for a few seconds or minutes. But what if it continues for a period of 2-4 days and has no sign of stopping? Should you worry?

Hiccups and COVID-19

Recently, a 62-year-old man from Cook County, Illinois, visited the Cook County Health Emergency Department. He reported an involuntary weight loss of 25 pounds over the course of four months and unstoppable hiccups for the past four days. The persistent hiccups and weight loss prompted the man to visit the ED.

The man had no other symptoms of Coronavirus as listed by Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His body temperature was 99.1* F, his heart rate was 96 beats per minute. He had 20 respirations per minute and his blood pressure was also normal, that is, 130/70. He had no history of cancer or current nicotine use but had a history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Everything looked normal except the hiccups which had crossed the 48-hour mark and needed medical attention. Doctors and medical representatives couldn’t just leave a man with unceasing hiccups. The medical staff conducted an X-ray of the lungs to spot the presence of any mass or any abnormality. Soon, they found “ground-glass opacities” in both of his lungs. Ground glass opacities are foggy looking areas. The areas look like glass which has been grounded. They further conducted a CT scan which confirmed the findings of X-ray.

So, apparently, the inflammation in the lungs triggered the hiccoughs.

What Causes Hiccups?

Generally, the involuntary contractions of the diaphragm (the muscle responsible for breathing) causes the vocal cords to close briefly and thus, producing the sound of hiccup.

Back to the Case

The man was tested with SARS-COV2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and was immediately sent into isolation and COVID medical unit. By the time he reached the medical unit, his body temperature had peaked to 101.1*F and heart rate to 104 beats per minute.

The man was tested positive with COVID-19 upon receiving the results, the next day. He was treated immediately with hydroxychloroquine, ceftriaxone, and azithromycin. He recovered shortly and left the hospital in stable condition in three days.

Hiccups are atypical of COVID-19. The general symptoms include fever, cough, tiredness, sore throat, and body aches.

What if You are Experiencing Hiccups?

So, if you are experiencing hiccups, made it vanishes shortly, relax. You do not have COVID-19. You need not panic. But, if you seem to have hiccups that are uncontrollable and continue for hours or crosses the mark of 48-hour, the consult a doctor soon. You may have some other health issue and not specifically, COVID-19. Remember, precaution is better than cure.