Pharmaceutical

Reglan may stop hiccups, but may cause more serious problems

Most people who take the medication Reglan (metoclopramide) are prescribed the drug to treat heartburn, GERD, or gastroparesis, also known as slow emptying of the stomach. But metoclopramide may also halt persistent hiccups.

Hiccups are usually a short-lived condition, with bouts lasting no longer than 30 hiccups. While the cause is relatively unknown, some things can trigger an episode of the hiccups, such as an overly full stomach (from too much food, alcohol or air), sudden temperature changes, smoking cigarettes, excitement or stress, and some medications. But for some, hiccups can last hours or even days. One man in Iowa reportedly had hiccups that lasted 60 years. Constant hiccups can make eating, drinking and sleeping difficult, and may require medical treatment to get under control.

If you suffer from hiccups that last an unusually long time, seek medical attention. Your doctor may first want to rule out any underlying medical conditions. While unlikely the case, constant hiccups may be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as laryngitis, gloiters, tumors in the neck, infections near the diaphragm, hiatus hernia, kidney failure, ear infection, aortic aneurysms and multiple sclerosis.

While rarely performed, hiccups can be treated with surgery. One type of surgery involves a nerve block that stops the major nerve supply for the diaphragm from sending signals to the diaphragm. The other involves implanting a pacemaker into the diaphragm to control contractions in the diaphragm. Most doctors, however, will choose a less invasive route, which may include medications.

Drugs that have been shown to reduce hiccups are the antipsychotic chlorpromazine, antispastic medication baclofen and metoclopramide. While medications may offer relief, patients should be aware of any serious side effects. For example, metoclopramide carries an FDA black box warning about the risk of a serious movement disorder known as Tardive Dyskinesia.

If your hiccups are persistent, don’t sit back and suffer. Consult with your doctor about the right treatment for you.

Source: MSN Health