In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a pandemic.

Since then, COVID-19 has affected tens of millions of people around the world, leading to new discoveries about the symptoms that can accompany the disease.

Recently, multiple case studies have suggested that persistent hiccups may be a potentially rare and unusual manifestation of COVID-19.

In this article, we’ll discuss whether hiccups are a sign of the new coronavirus, when to contact your doctor about frequent hiccups, and other important information you should know about COVID-19.

According to the research, it is possible that hiccups are a rare sign of COVID-19.

In one recent 2020 case study, a 64-year-old man was found to have persistent hiccups as the only symptom of COVID-19.

In this situation, the subject of the study visited an outpatient clinic after experiencing a bout of hiccups for 72 hours.

Both blood testing and lung imaging were performed. They revealed evidence of infection in both lungs and low white blood cells. Follow-up testing for COVID-19 revealed a positive diagnosis.

In a different 2020 case study, a 62-year-old man was also found to have experienced hiccups as a symptom of the new coronavirus.

In this case, the subject had been experiencing hiccups for a period of 4 days before presentation to the emergency room.

Upon admission, further testing showed similar findings in their lungs, as well as low white blood cells and platelets. Again, testing for COVID-19 confirmed a positive diagnosis.

It is important to note that the studies mentioned above are only two individual case studies. They only demonstrate a potentially rare side effect of COVID-19.

More research is still needed to determine the link between chronic hiccups and the new coronavirus.

Hiccups are quite common and happen when your diaphragm involuntarily spasms or contracts. Your diaphragm is your muscle directly beneath your lungs that separates your chest from your abdomen.

Hiccups can be caused by everything from eating to swallowing air to stress, and much more.

While they can be somewhat annoying, hiccups are rarely a sign of anything dangerous. Generally, hiccups only last a few minutes — although in some cases, they have been known to last for hours.

According to the National Health Service, hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are considered a cause for concern and should be addressed by a doctor.

Medical treatment options for hiccups are generally reserved for people with chronic hiccups that don’t resolve on their own. Some of these treatment options may include:

  • Medications. Prescription medications for chronic hiccups generally include antispasmodic medications that stop smooth muscle tissue from twitching or cramping. However, other medications, such as those used to treat GERD, may be prescribed. Baclofen, chlorpromazine, and metoclopramide are all medications that may be prescribed for chronic hiccups.
  • Injections. While prescription medications are the first line of treatment for persistent hiccups, sometimes they’re not strong enough. A 2011 case report showed that in these cases, an injection of bupivacaine may be necessary to block the nerve that causes hiccups.
  • Surgery. If neither medications nor injections help stop chronic hiccups, surgery may be considered. The surgical option for chronic hiccups involves inserting a device that uses electrical stimulation to stop the hiccups.

For most people, hiccups will resolve on their own — they generally only become a concern if they become chronic or cause other health concerns.

You should talk with a doctor if your hiccups last longer than 48 hours, as this may be a sign of an underlying health condition.

You may also need to talk with a doctor if your hiccups cause you to be unable to eat, breathe, or do anything else you would typically be able to do.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • muscle or body aches
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste

Symptoms of COVID-19 can appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Depending on the severity of the disease, the symptoms can range from asymptomatic (no symptoms at all) to severe.

In some situations, COVID-19 can cause uncommon symptoms that are not listed above, such as dizziness or rash.

Even rarer, case studies like those mentioned above have shown how other unusual symptoms can be a sign of the new coronavirus.

If you are experiencing new symptoms and concerned that you may have developed COVID-19, speak with your doctor as soon as possible for testing.

While not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19, the CDC recommends getting tested if:

  • you currently have symptoms
  • you’ve been in close physical contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • your doctor recommends that you get tested

There are two types of testing available for COVID-19: viral testing and antibody testing. Viral testing is used to diagnose a current infection, while antibody testing can be used to detect a past infection.

Tests are available nationwide at most local or state health departments, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies. Some states also currently offer drive-thru testing and 24-hour emergency testing when necessary.

We all play an important role in preventing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The best way to reduce your risk of contracting, or spreading, this new coronavirus is to practice personal hygiene and physical distancing.

This means following the CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and being mindful of your own health and testing status.

Staying informed about current and developing COVID-19 news is also important — you can keep up to date with Healthline’s live coronavirus updates here.

CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of the new coronavirus

Below, you’ll find some CDC recommended guidelines to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often. Washing your hands after being in public, handling nonpersonal items, and before you eat can help keep you safe.
  • Keep your distance from others. When in public or around people who are not in your immediate household, avoid close contact by maintaining 6 feet (2 meters) of distance apart when possible.
  • Wear a face mask. Wearing a face mask can help prevent the spread of the virus if you are sick and reduce your risk of contracting the virus if others around you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze. Precautions that are put in place during flu season should also be used for COVID-19 – wash your hands often, dispose of your tissues properly, and always cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep your area clean. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of both personal and public areas, such as desks, door handles, countertops, and more, can help reduce your exposure to the virus.

According to the CDC, in December 2020, a vaccine from Pfizer was granted emergency use authorization and approval for a vaccine from Moderna is expected to follow.

It may take months before most people have access to this vaccine, but there are also treatment options available.

The current treatment recommendation for mild cases of COVID-19 is recovery at home. In more severe cases, certain medical treatments may be used, such as:

  • antivirals (such as remdesivir and favipiravir)
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • convalescent plasma therapy
  • immune modulators
  • stem cells
  • other experimental treatments

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, so do new treatment options to help combat the disease.

Many of the symptoms of COVID-19 are commonly experienced among people who have developed the disease. However, research has suggested that some people may experience other rare and unusual symptoms.

In two recent case studies, persistent hiccups were the only outward sign of the new coronavirus. While this indicates that hiccups may be a potential symptom of COVID-19, more research is needed on this rare side effect.