Lisa Graves, a mother of two, says she has not stopped hiccupping since she got pregnant nearly 12 years ago. The 31-year-old from Lincoln, a city in the English East Midlands, couldn’t explain the strange hiccups she began experiencing when she got pregnant in 2008.
A nail technician, Lisa has undergone numerous tests, including an MRI scan, brain tests and countless visits to neurologists. Doctors have told her that it could be a rare side effect from a stroke she may have suffered during pregnancy. Despite giving birth to a healthy baby, she has been left with hiccups that have completely stumped the medical professionals she has consulted.
Lisa, who has attempted every remedy to treat her hiccups, has been forced to accept her bizarre condition. Although her husband Matthew, 35, has gotten used to them, her work colleagues are often alarmed by the sound, which they have compared to a chicken and a dog that’s been stepped on.
Meanwhile, her two daughters, Sophie, seven, and Emily, 11, have always heard their mom hiccup. On a normal day, Lisa may hiccup over one hundred times. She’s been offered trial medications but has so far refused them.
"I'm lucky - I own my salon and the majority of the girls that I work with have grown used to it,” she says. "But I can still make them jump, and there's been plenty of mishaps when we're working on nails - with a wild stroke of the brush here and there.”
She tried having people scare her, sucking on a lemon, and every other home remedy known to man, but nothing has worked. Meanwhile, since doctors couldn’t guarantee that the trial medication would work, she decided not to try it.
Lisa says the worst part of managing her hiccups is when she is in public since they can be loud and embarrassing. Still, she’s come to accept it is just a condition she will have to live with, potentially forever. According to The British Society of Gastroenterology, the longest recorded period of hiccupping on record is 68 years.
Lisa's condition, which is considered 'very rare', happens usually now when she's comfortable and relaxed. "For my two daughters, I've hiccuped their entire lives so it doesn't bother them,” she says. "It can wake me up in the night, and sometimes my husband too, but it's only a minor inconvenience. Knowing what happened to me during my pregnancy for no reason, I'm lucky. It could have been a lot worse."
According to the Mayo Clinic, hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm — the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and regulates breathing. Each contraction is followed by the immediate closure of the vocal cords, which results in the characteristic "hic" sound. Hiccups can be brought on by a large meal, alcoholic or carbonated beverages or unexpected excitement. In some cases, hiccups can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. When hiccups last for months or years, they can result in weight loss and exhaustion.