A woman has revealed how she suffered hiccups every day for eight years, following a night of partying.
Danielle Kirkland, now 28, didn’t think much of it when she woke up one morning in March 2008 with the hiccups.
But, concerned when they lingered for a few days, the mental health worker from Alabama, USA, saw her doctor, who advised her to return if they persisted.
Over the ensuing months, the annoying affliction continued and Kirkland visited her doctor seven more times.
Finally, in October 2008 – six months after she first woke up with them, following her night of revelry – she was diagnosed with chronic hiccups.
Kirkland claims it took nearly eight years and repeated visits to gastric, ear, nose and throat and lung specialists at St Vincent’s Health System in Birmingham, Alabama, before a cure was found, in the form of a simple muscle relaxant.
She told how her bizarre ailment got her into a few scrapes.
While still at college, training to be a nurse, she was kicked out of class because she was hiccuping so much.
“The tutor said I was disruptive,” she said. “I was trying not to be. I just couldn’t stop hiccuping.”
Another time, during the eulogy at her friend’s mother’s funeral, she had a fit of hiccups, making the congregation laugh.
“Luckily my friend didn’t mind,” she explained. “It made things light-hearted.”
She even hiccupped on romantic nights out.
“Guys would make fun of me,” said Kirkland, who has been dating Scott McCracken, 30, a pharmacy technician, for three years.
Kirkland thinks her hiccups, caused by the diaphragm suddenly and involuntarily contracting, started because of a combination of the pain-killing medications she was taking for arthritis and migraines.
“I took barbiturates and [an opiate of acetaminophen and hydrocodone],” she explained.
“I was addicted to them and would doctor-hop and pharmacy-hop to get them.
“I had been doing this for years before I went cold turkey in 2008. Going cold turkey was tough, I felt so fluey, but I recovered and am now sober.
“However, I think the long-term impact gave me chronic hiccups.”
Around four years ago, Kirkland started taking a medication called metoclopramide to try and control her hiccups.
Generally used to treat gastric problems, it caused uncomfortable spasms in Kirkland and so she abandoned it.
However, it prompted her to seek more solutions. So, she started to try a muscle relaxant called tizanidine which did work.
“It really helped,” she said, explaining she takes a tizanidine capsule nightly.
The tizanidine took about a month to work. After that period she was hiccuping just six or seven times a day – instead of an hour.
Now, if she misses even a dose, she notices.
“I start hiccuping straight away,” she laughed.
“But I’m basically back to normal. No longer do hiccups interfere with my life.
“Now if I do get the hiccups I panic. I always time them. If it goes past an hour I take an acid neutraliser or sugar as it helps.
“I dread the thought of getting them again. I hate the hiccups.
“If I hear someone with them, it makes me cringe. I’ve had enough hiccups to last a lifetime.”
RCP Registrar Dr Andrew Goddard said: “We know that both barbiturates and opiates can be recognised causes of long-term hiccups but there are of course many others.
“However, it is worth stating that cases such as these, which involve such a long timeframe for hiccups, are very unusual.”