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Are Hiccups a Sign of Coronavirus?



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Photographer, Basak Gurbuz DermanGetty Images

Science has learned more about the novel coronavirus every day since it was first discovered in December 2019. The more people develop COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the more new symptoms will appear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has continuously updated their list of COVID symptoms for specific signs.

Persistent hiccups were recently reported as a symptom of COVID-19, but they don’t appear on the CDC’s official list of signs. According to Mitchell Li, MD, owner of Drive Direct Care in Chicago, there is only one documented case study of hiccups related to COVID-19.

According to Li, his patients did not have hiccups. However, he says that people on online Facebook communities report this symptom. Right now there just isn’t enough evidence to include hiccups in the official list of symptoms of COVID-19 symptoms, he says.

Are Hiccups a Sign of Coronavirus?

A 62-year-old man went to the emergency room after four days of hiccups, according to a report released in July The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. A computed tomography or CT scan revealed abnormalities in the patient’s lungs. The patient also had a fever and a coronavirus test revealed the man had COVID-19.

The study was published because it was unusual – not because hiccups, according to Dr. Li is a common COVID problem.

However, according to COVID, lung irritation caused by COVID may have triggered persistent hiccups, says Dr. Neal Shipley of Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care. Hiccups are basically convulsions that occur when the phrenic nerve that controls the muscles of the diaphragm becomes irritated, says Dr. Shipley. Irritation from COVID-related pneumonia can lead to persistent hiccups, but not all hiccups are alarming.

“You just have to be very careful that assuming hiccups equals COVID,” says Dr. Shipley.

Causes of Persistent Hiccups

There are so many causes of hiccups, but in general, gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux are the problem, says Dr. Shipley. However, the problem can even be a side effect of certain medications.

You should see a doctor if you can’t stop hiccups for more than 48 hours, says Dr. Li.

“If someone came in with four days of hiccups, I wouldn’t call it off,” he says.

Chronic hiccups can be a sign of underlying problems like a tumor, diabetes, or a gastrointestinal disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic.

However, if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, haven’t been socially distant, or have more common symptoms like a cough or fever, you should get tested for COVID, says Dr. Shipley.

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