Nearly 2 days of Nonstop Hiccupping may have Saved His Life

Nearly 2 days of Nonstop Hiccupping may have Saved His Life
Science & Medicine

And now, an odd but cautionary tale. Having the hiccups is annoying, and it can also be embarrassing, especially if you’re a radio host. That’s the situation Philadelphia radio icon Big Daddy Graham found himself in about a week ago.

As he prepped for a 2 a.m. radio show at 610 WIP radio, he was struck with a bad case of the hiccups. But the show must go on, so Graham took to the airwaves, but it was impossible to cover up his condition.

Graham, who has been with the station for nearly 20 years, said of his early morning ailment:

“I started getting bouts of three to four hiccups in a row. It’s a hard thing to hide on the air.” [1]

But the hiccups aren’t something you give a lot of thought to. And Graham has been through the ringer in recent years, suffering through major back surgery, throat cancer, and a serious staph infection. It was amusing at first, and Graham spoke of the malady on-air. Thousands of people offered tips for getting rid of his hiccups, and at one point Graham even started drinking vinegar on the show. [2]

Graham made it through the show, and then embarked on a trip to New York City, but he had to cut his vacation short when the hiccups returned.

He hiccupped for 41 straight hours.

Forty-one. Straight. Hours.

Personally, I get annoyed after 5 minutes.

Source: Medical News Today

His hiccups started affecting his breathing, and he ceased being able to function properly. He said:

“It got so bad I wasn’t able to sleep. But still, who goes to the doctor for hiccups?”

Graham eventually went to a New Jersey emergency room, where he spent 5 hours. He was discharged, and he thought his problems were over.

He was wrong:

“Ten minutes after they released me, I started hiccupping again.”

The radio personality and comedian wound up at Jefferson University Hospital, where he was finally diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or AFib. He told

“I’ve had three back surgeries, three throat surgeries, throat cancer and a mini-heart attack over Labor Day weekend. I’m a very bad eater with very bad hours, but that’s the price I pay for doing a job I don’t consider work.”

Source: Louisiana Emergency Response Network

The typical symptoms of AFib include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and fatigue. Left untreated, AFib can cause blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related problems.

But AFib isn’t normally a symptom of the condition.

Read: Know the Causes and Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Dr. Philip Nimoityn, cardiologist and clinical assistant professor at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, who treated Graham, explained:

“Hiccups can be precipitated by a lot of factors, including various stresses, and so can atrial fibrillation. It’s possible that whatever set off one set off the other, but they are not necessarily directly related.”

Dr. Howard Levite, director of cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital, told CBS News that in individuals with risk factors for AFib, who are in the higher risk age group, AFib can be triggered by anything from a bad cold, to too many glasses of wine.

But as for the hiccups, well, they could be related to the heart rhythm issue because the nerve that is believed to trigger hiccups runs directly behind the heart and could cause irritation. [3]

However, Levite, who did not treat Graham, says he thinks “we’re not getting the full story.”

Graham’s hiccups have decreased, but not disappeared entirely. He said:

“They’re saving my life at the moment. A little bit of water, a little bit of pills, you know the routine.”

And despite the more-than-occasional interruption, he is back at work.

So if you get the hiccups, don’t run to the hospital.

But if you have them for nearly 2 days straight…you might want to get that checked out.



[2] CBS News Philadelphia

[3] CBS News

Medical News Today

CBS Philadelphia