– The diaphragm (which separates the cavity of the chest from the cavity of the abdomen) is one of the principal muscles of breathing. When from any reason the nerve which regulates the action of the diaphragm becomes irritated, spasmodic contraction of the muscle may result. The effect of this is to cause a sudden inrush of air into the chest, when the voice organs are not prepared for it. This accounts for the “sob” and the noise which are so characteristic.
Anything which disorders the digestion and produces flatulence is apt to set up this irritation. Spices will cause it at once in some people. At times hiccough occurs from some brain affection, apart from any affection of the stomach, the nerve being irritated at its origin.
Hiccough is much more common among infants than among adults. In them it is often due to chilling of the skin.
General Treatment.-The well-known remedies of taking a deep breath and holding it a long time, drinking deep draughts of water, eating a few lumps of sugar may be tried; also sudden arrest of the attention by a friend of the patient is sometimes effective. Infants should be wrapped up warmly and put to the breast, or a teaspoonful of water, sweetened with white sugar, should be given. If these measures fail, recourse must be had to
Medicines.- (Every few minutes; when the case is chronic, at longer intervals.)
Nux v. 3.
– In ordinary cases.
– When it occurs after eating, drinking, or smoking.
Nat. mur. 6.
– Violent and persistent hiccough, chilliness, and ill-nourished condition.