Frequent hiccups in infants that may persist for more than two days or months may result in malnutrition and exhaustion. Learn about this common problem from the write-up below.
Hiccups are fairly common, and it affects everyone at some point or the other. This condition is associated with the diaphragm, which is a muscle that acts as a separation medium between the chest and the abdominal area of the body. It also plays an important role in the breathing process. Under certain situations, this very muscle experiences spasm that makes it contract. And this contraction results in a sudden intake of air. But this air is stopped by the sudden closure of the vocal cords (glottis). And this is what that creates a sound which we know as a ‘hiccup’.
What Causes Hiccups?
The problem can occur for a short period of time, while it can also persist for long. Acute hiccups may be a result of exposure to sudden alterations in temperature, (such as moving from one region to another), and emotional stress to the baby. For your information, the same in adults may be caused by smoking, eating food too quickly, excess alcohol, or drinking a hot beverage and then a cold beverage.
Now if the hiccups stay for more than two days, then it is most likely that the nerves that are involved in the working of the diaphragm, may have been damaged or irritated. One common factor which may be responsible for hiccups to occur frequently could be associated with gastroesophageal reflux. When this condition is the cause, your baby may cough, be irritable and spit up. One more reason could be a hair in the ear that is touching against the eardrum. Again, if we speak of the problem in adults, then causes besides these, may include sore throat, growth of a tumor, or a goiter in the neck.
Hiccups are a symptom in themselves, except that they may be accompanied with a slight tightness in the chest, or throat. However, these additional signs cannot be detected when the problem affects infants or children, as they won’t be able to communicate how they are feeling.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups in Infants?
Usually, hiccups do not stay for more than a few minutes. However, those that occur frequently, and seem to persist for more than 48 hours, may be treated with a few self-care measures at home. These may include holding one’s breath for a few seconds to minutes, breathing into a paper bag, gulping down a glass of water, and taking a spoonful of sugar or honey. However, all these remedies can be applied only in case of adults, but not for infants. That is why, infant hiccups is best treated by a pediatrician. Only a child expert can pin point the factor that has been causing problem to persist. Depending on the cause of the problem, your baby would be treated accordingly.
At home, parents can reduce chances of hiccups by feeding their infants in a quiet and less distracting environment. If the problem occurs during feeding, then it is better to give it a break, and let the hiccups fade away. After feeding, it is also a good habit to put the baby on your shoulder and pat his/her back. This stimulates burping, which may also help reduce hiccups.
Incidences of infants hiccuping frequently is rarely associated with any serious underlying medical problem. Also, they must not try any folk remedies to deal with the problem. It is advised to wait and watch if the hiccups go away, and if they still tend to persist for more than 2 days, then they must consider visiting a child specialist.