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Hiccups, and mind altering drugs

Nine days ago on November 5th, I got the hiccups. I tried the usual cures like holding my breath, drinking water, then went online and found a bunch more cures like, breathing into a paper bag, pulling on my tongue. I found I could stop the hiccups but, they were back again within minutes.

After three days I went to the doctor, who prescribed some muscle relaxant. Didn’t help. I did go for a 50 mile bike ride on Sunday, and if nothing else, the hiccups seemed less noticeable when riding my bike.

On Monday, I went back to the doctor, who sent me to the local ER for a more thorough check up. They had me lay on a bed for several hours, with about a dozen electrodes attached to every part of my upper body, this in turn was hooked up to a machine to monitor all my vital functions.

My resting heart rate is 38 bpm, and just about every doctor or nurse that came into the room, remarked, “My God, is your heart rate usually that low?” And I would have to explain that it was because of all the miles ridden on my bike over the years. For most of my life it was 36 bpm but due to my age it has gone up slightly.

My heartbeat pattern was steady as a rock, and blood pressure was normal. They took a chest x-ray and my lungs looked normal. In other words they could find nothing wrong, except that I had hiccups. The doctor prescribed some medication called, Chlorpromazine.

After a trip to the pharmacy I was close to a hundred dollars poorer. On arriving home I went online to see what this drug was. I am reluctant to put anything in my body without knowing what it will do to me. Are the side effects worse than the symptom?

I found that yes it was prescribed for hiccups, but was mainly used to treat schizophrenics. No real dangerous side effects that I could see, so I took it. I soon realized why they give this stuff to schizophrenics, it has the effect of a pharmaceutical lobotomy.

It stops people thinking crazy thoughts, because it stops all thought. I sat in front of the computer screen, reading stuff, and not understanding a word of what I was reading. Writing was totally out of the question, I struggled to answer a simple email.

I had a strong memory of what this felt like from many years ago as a teenager in England during the 1950s. I was forced to go into a mental hospital as a voluntary patient. “Forced to go as a voluntary patient,” may seem like a contradiction, but I was told if I didn’t go voluntarily, all it would take was a judge and a doctor to commit me, and it would then be almost impossible to get released.

They did that shit back in the 1950s to young kids who didn’t conform to what was considered normal behavior. They did it in Britain, and also in the US. I was given Electro Convulsive Therapy. (ECT) This consists on an electrode placed on both temples, and an electric current sent through your head for a few seconds. It sends the patient into a convulsion. Hence its name. (See "One flew over the cookoos nest.")

The after effect on the patient, is one of not being able to have a single creative thought. So you don’t have crazy thoughts because you have very few thoughts at all, and you walk around like a fucking zombie. A frontal lobotomy is a more drastic and permanent step to achieve much the same ends.

This morning when I woke I didn’t take the Chlorpromazine. My hiccups still come and go, no better, but no worse either. My thoughts were, “I need to get some writing done.”  This is the first step. I will keep you posted.


Update 11/18/13: Friday evening the 15th November, after 10 days of almost continuous hiccups, the symptoms got so severe I could not eat, and at times had a hard time breathing. Then right before I went to bed, the hiccups quite suddenly stopped, and I felt normal. I got a really good night’s sleep and have not had hiccups since. Thank you for all the remedies, some gave me brief relief. I’m sure they will also be of help to others who come across this piece in a search.

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Reader Comments (24)

Dear Mr. Moulton,
Get a 2nd opinion. My grandfather suffered from chronic hiccups for months and was then diagnosed with stomach cancer. Something as sustained as you are experiencing could be the sign of serious illness.
My own cure for hiccups was a big spoon of peanut butter. You feel like you are choking to get it down, but that sensation is usually enough to get rid of the spasm.
Good luck!

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJunji

Thanks, I am aware that the hiccups could be the symptom of something else. I have a sore throat that started the same time as the hiccups, I feel the two are linked, and my next step is to get that checked out.

November 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

My wife eats peanut butter when she gets hiccups, claims that it works all the time.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Best of luck with this Dave. I was flabbergasted to read that you were given shock therapy because you failed to conform during your teen years. My mother had several rounds of that in her 40s and 50s and I can still recall that zombified look and mannerism which resulted. I'm not sure any good ever came of it.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

As Groucho Marx said "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!"
Sorry to hear this Dave. I am sure you've tried most of the "traditional" remedies but this one usually works for me;
stick your index fingers in your ears and get someone to feed you a glass of water very slowly.

Hope you get it sorted.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Cue another hiccup cure: when I was a kid with the hiccups I would be given a teaspoon of sugar to eat. Tastes sweet and normally did the trick too. Another one was drinking from the opposite side of the glass. Difficult to describe but you hold it so your chin is inside the glass and drink from the side furthest away from you. Sounds awkward but that's the point.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlemmiwinks

Hope you are back to normal soon Dave.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMidland

Is this what got you to change the pic of you on a bike? This is a creative response.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I sometimes see on various forums, people label me as a “Curmudgeon” or “Retro Grouch,” just because I'll post the occasional "Rant." That is not who I am, I try not to take life, or myself too serious. I hope the new pic at the top reflects that.
BTW the hiccups are improving, I do have breaks in between bouts, and I'm still off the medication.

November 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton


Another hiccup cure my dad, a pediatrician, used to suggest. Drink water upside down. Cup of water, bend over so your head is low, and drink from the opposite rim of the cup. Something about air pockets that form. It's worked for me every time, for many years.


November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Dave, I second the comment by lemmiwinks. A tablespoonful of sugar washed down with a sip of water works for me.

Your experience with Chlorpromazine sounds scary. I'm sure some weed would have been a better choice.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Chug down an ounce of Vinegar in one big gulp. I have had mixed results with the other cures but this one works every time.

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShaun

looking forward to more posts soon all the best. drugs like that are often very heavy going! love the quote about the heart rate got talking to a load of touring cyclists (in their 60s, I am only 28) when touring recently said they kicked the living daylights out of people half there age at their work health check up! dunno about peanut butter but maybe you just need to be surprised!? ;)

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

Hiccups for 3 days? You should've smoked a little weed.

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMellow Johnny

As an occasional sufferer of violent, painful hiccups (but fortunately they go away after an hour or two), I sympathize with you. I won't try to give you a secret cure because as you said, you've already tried them all, and if they are lasting this long, it seems pretty obvious (to me at least) that it's symptomatic of something else. I hope the doctors can help you figure it out and get you back to normal!

November 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

The hiccups lasted 10 days then stopped. See the update added to the bottom of the article.

November 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Glad to hear Dave.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Certainly good news but is 10 days a record? I was never aware that hiccuping could ever last this long.

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack


November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhh

Man I thought my resting heart rate was low every time I get my pulse taken they freak out my resting is 46

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

I hate hiccups, it's impossible to get rid of them. I used to have persistent ones, but now they're gone. I have the feeling that it's the nature of a healthy hiccup, appearing and dissapearing unexpectingly. Nevetheless, its scary that a simple and innocent thing like that can be so persistent that can make you miserable.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBicyclosis

Here is the most effective way to stop hiccups...

Enjoy them. Because nothing that we enjoy in life will last very long.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhalekai

Always enjoy your blog.
Hiccups....there are a lot of reasons to be critical of health care, whether "american" or "western" or "chinese" or "naturopathic" or whatever. But foremost is that they all share a basis in voodoo by their practitioners - you have hiccups, here's the treatment. The establishment of a scientific, rational "cause and effect," if even considered, is an annoyance rather than a prime directive, more often than not. A good mechanic would ask, "why?"

Irritation to the diaphragms from above or below, phrenic nerve irritation, central/brain problems, all these things can produce "hiccups". At some point hiccups are annoying enough, a good mechanic should start looking for the cause, and only after identifying it, figure out a solution.

Drugs are really only used for two reasons, one is to suppress challenging thoughts and the other is facilitate maladaptive lifestyles. Too bad you had to be on the receiving end of the legal torture.

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphil
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