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Hiccups are a common irritation most people experience at one point or another. While the sometimes-embarrassing involuntary spasms usually subside after a few minutes, for 15-year-old Emma, they’ve become a constant problem. Emma says she has been hiccupping nonstop for the past six months, and the chronic condition has affected her life in a major way. She no longer can attend school due to the disruption her hiccups cause, and she has been unable to eat or sleep normally since the hiccups began.
“I feel like I’m going to vomit all the time,” Emma explains, adding that the persistent spasms feel like her diaphragm is going wild.
Emma’s mother, Heidi, says her daughter has seen several different doctors, including a pediatric neurologist and a gastroenterologist, to get to the root of Emma’s distressing condition. None were able to give a satisfactory diagnosis. Emma also has tried every home remedy imaginable to curb her hiccupping, to no avail.
Desperate for answers, Emma and Heidi reach out to The Doctors for help and are sent to Dr. Joseph Pinzone, founder and CEO of Amai Medical and Wellness, for an evaluation.
Dr. Pinzone explains that hiccups are caused by an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm (the muscle at the base of the lungs), which is controlled by the vagus and phrenic nerves. Oftentimes, persistent hiccups are caused by irritation of or injury to these nerves. Additional potential causes of persistent hiccups include alcoholism, tobacco use, kidney failure, certain prescription medications, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease.
Find out what Dr. Pinzone uncovers about Emma’s condition, and hear his recommendations for her treatment: