Hiccups Can Be a Migraine Aura Symptom

by Teri Robert Patient Advocate

It's always interesting when researchers connect the dots and confirm that something patients have been asking about can indeed be a Migraine symptom.

A poster presentation at this year's International Headache Congress did just that. Dr. Pushpi Chaudhry and Dr. Deborah Friedman confirmed a case of a young woman who often has hiccups as a Migraine aura symptom.

For this patient:

  • Hiccups occur during the aura phase in 90% of her Migraine attacks.

  • The hiccups last 30 to 60 minutes.

  • The rate of the hiccups is constant during their duration.

Chaudry and Friedman reported that:

  • Intractable hiccups have been associated with various nervous system causes.

  • The pathophysiology of hiccups is not well understood, but many of the nervous system structures involved in hiccups are also involved in Migraine.

Chaudry and Friedman concluded:

"Hiccups can present as a primary aura symptom in patients with Migraine."

Many people are unaware of the wide array of symptoms that can occur during the aura phase of a Migraine attack. Most people think of the visual symptoms that can occur, but there are many other possible symptoms, including:

  • Aphasia: loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words.

  • Auditory hallucinations: hearing sounds that aren't really there.

  • Olfactory hallucinations: smelling odors that aren't really there.

  • Allodynia: hypersensitivity to feel and touch.

  • Paresthesia: often described as numbness or as a prickly, stinging, or burning feeling.

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness

  • Decrease in or loss of hearing.

  • Reduced sensation.

  • Motor weakness. This must be distinguished from numbness or tingling and is a symptom of hemiplegic Migraine only.

  • Hemiplegia (unilateral paralysis). This also is a symptom of hemiplegic Migraine only.

We can now add hiccups to this list.

For more information about Migraine aura, see Migraine Aura Can Have Many Variations.


Resources:

Chaudry, P.; Friedman, D.I. "Hiccups as a Migraine Aura." Poster Presentation P279. International Headache Congress. June, 2013.

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Teri Robert
Meet Our Writer
Teri Robert

Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation's Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society.