Singultation: What to Do?

Canadian Health and Care Mall defines singultation as a nonspecific violation of function of external respiration, which occurs as a result of a series of convulsive trembling contractions of the diaphragm and is subjectively manifested in unpleasant short and intense respiratory movements. It sometimes appears in healthy people for no apparent reason and, as a rule, is a harmless, rapidly stopping phenomenon.

Singultation can occur in the following circumstances:

  • general cooling (especially in young children), especially at alcoholic intoxication.
  • overstretching of the stomach (overfilling it with food). According to experts, such involuntary muscle contractions can come from esophagus. Disturbances of swallowing and stuck food in esophagus provoke spasms in the place where esophagus passes into stomach.
  • when diaphragmatic nerve is irritated. The so-called «ordinary» singultation is manifestation of a nervous tic. This occurs under the influence of diaphragmatic nerve, which for unknown reasons transmits excitation to the muscles of diaphragm. As a result, uncontrolled spasms occur.

Hiccups may also be a symptom of certain diseases, for example, in the case of diaphragm irritation at inflammatory process in abdominal cavity. Sometimes it becomes long and painful. Hiccups occur at certain diseases of brain and spinal cord, and can also occur at myocardial infarction, infectious diseases and mental agitation.

In cases of prolonged, persistent singultation, it is necessary to consult a doctor who will determine its cause and prescribe treatment. With development of renal insufficiency, there may also be constant or periodic singultation. It can be the result of development of abscess or tumor in the chest, diaphragm or esophagus. Some people have singultation due to psychological reasons, it resembles reactions at transient paralysis in soldiers who are afraid of fighting. In such cases, singultation is unconscious and reflect desire to avoid very unpleasant events. Some people suffer singultation in postoperative period, which can be a reaction to pain medications.

Singultation

Symptoms of singultation:

  • sharp contractions of diaphragm, accompanied by brief inhalations and simultaneous protrusion of abdomen;
  • singultation are accompanied by compressed sounds, which are associated with sharp passage of air through closed vocal chink.

Forms of Singultation

Singultation can be physiological (not caused by any diseases) and pathological (abnormal).

Physiological singultation occurs in healthy people. It lasts for a short time (5 — 15 minutes) and does not bring discomfort, it usually disappears by itself.

Pathological singultation may be long- (lasting several hours and even days) and short-term (several minutes). The cause of its occurrence is most often pathological conditions.

According to origin of singultation there are several types:

  • «central» — develops at the defeat of brain and spinal cord, craniocerebral trauma, hysteria (mental illness), certain mental disorders (depression, manic-depressive syndrome), diseases of nervous system (brain and spinal cord tumors);
  • «peripheral» — is observed at lesion of diaphragmatic (originating from spinal cord at the level of cervical vertebrae and controlling diaphragm) and vagus nerves (originating from lower parts of brain and partially controlling esophagus, stomach, intestines and heart);
  • «toxic» — occurs on the background of various poisoning (poisonous mushrooms, stale products, medicines, etc.);
  • «reflected» — is observed at intestinal diseases — enteritis (inflammation of small intestine), enterocolitis (inflammation of large intestine), parasitic diseases (ascarids, pinworms).

What is the reason for this phenomenon? Despite significant achievements of medicine for many years of its existence, there is still no reliable treatment for these minor spasms that cause a person to produce indecent sounds. But do not worry, there are several ways to solve this problem.

To get rid of singultation, you need to stop the spasms of diaphragm and esophagus. This can be done either by distraction or by breathing techniques. Usually this is enough.

When singultation does not stop, you make great efforts to make it disappear. You focus on your chest and deliberately strain diaphragm. But, straining and trying to suppress the next attack of singultation, you only complicate the situation.

Canadian Health and Care Mall recommends to undergo examination in the following cases:

  • if singultation lasts more than an hour;
  • if attacks of singultation occur several times a day or several days a week;
  • if, in addition to hiccups, you have chest pain, heartburn or swallowing disorders.

If you often have singultation or its attacks last for a long time, your doctor may prescribe X-ray examination after taking barium mixture to identify any obstruction in esophagus. To eliminate singultation that is permanent and not associated with any mechanical obstruction in esophagus, the doctor may prescribe certain medications, depending on what your disorders are related to.

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