Three signs that may indicate that your hiccups are related to a stroke or cancer – “Seek advice”
The causes of hiccups are complex, but the activation of certain nerves followed by contraction of the diaphragm best explains how the reflex is triggered. According to researchers, hiccups are commonly seen in smokers and people who consume large amounts of alcohol. Hiccups have also been observed in hospitals and palliative care units in patients being treated for stroke and several different types of cancer.
It’s not clear exactly how hiccups occur, but experts believe the causes vary from person to person.
There is general agreement that irritation and stimulation of the phrenic and vagus nerves are responsible.
However, doctors in Italy have reported cases where men could induce hiccups simply by shaving and stroking their beards.
Among the most obscure causes of the condition are stroke and various types of cancer.
READ MORE: ‘Aphasia’ can occur up to a week before a stroke – symptoms to look out for
News Medical Life Sciences states that the list of cancers associated with hiccups is extensive and includes:
- Esophageal carcinoma
- Stomach cancer
- Pancreas cancer
- Some brain tumors
- Tumors of the mediastinum
- Lungs’ cancer.
The health organ states that under these conditions hiccups can develop when the nerves serving the diaphragm are irritated.
Timothy Pfanner, associate professor of medicine at the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center College of Medicine, explained, “Anything that causes bloating can cause hiccups.
“Smokers are prone because they are constantly swallowing air.
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“Sometimes we see intractable hiccups in patients diagnosed with cancer of the brain, lymph nodes or cancer of the stomach.
“You should seek the advice of your healthcare professional if your hiccups progress from what happens intermittently to constant or uncontrollable.”
It is thought that in stroke, disruptions in the neurotransmitter pathways in the central nervous system can lead to hiccups.
These disorders are often observed in the brains of patients treated for brain tumors.
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Speaking to The Huffington Post, neuroscientist Diane Green-Chandos explained that it’s important to look for other signs to determine if you’re having a stroke.
Numbness, blurred vision, or sudden confusion, for example, are key indicators of the condition.
What’s more, Dr. Green-Chandos explained that hiccups due to a stroke are likely to be “painful, incessant and intense that comes out of nowhere.”
In a survey conducted by the researcher and her team, 1,000 people were asked about stroke, and 10 percent of women knew hiccups were an indicator of the condition.
With stomach cancer, the causes are slightly different, as they can only occur when the stomach stops working and becomes distended and swollen.
To determine if cancer is the cause of hiccups, it may be worth looking for other key signs of illness, such as weight loss and fatigue.
The NHS says hiccups that last more than 48 hours or recur very frequently should be checked by a doctor.
“The doctor will want to find out if your hiccups are caused by a health condition or a medication you are taking,” the health authority adds.
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