Chemotherapy, a regimen of powerful drugs used to treat cancer, can cause a variety of side effects, from nausea and vomiting to hair loss. Hiccups are another side effect of chemotherapy that affects some people, particularly those who take anti-nausea medications. The American Cancer Society urges cancer patients to contact their doctor if their hiccups persist for more than a day. Home remedies and medical treatments can treat chemotherapy-induced hiccups.
Consult Your Oncologist
Speak to your oncologist about the medications you are taking to control nausea during your chemotherapy treatments. CancerPoints, an online information resource for cancer patients and their loved ones, explains that some corticosteroid drugs that relieve nausea can lead to episodes of hiccups. Adjusting your medication dose or switching to a new drug at your doctor's discretion might eliminate your problem.
Treat mild chemotherapy-induced hiccups with home remedies. The American Cancer Society suggests breathing slowly and deliberately into a paper bag and taking sips of water slowly.
Also try putting 1 tsp. of table sugar in your mouth, holding it for a moment and then swallowing it.
Ask your doctor about the possibility of taking a drug called Gabapentin to relieve your chemo-induced hiccups. CancerPoints reports that some oncologists have found success with this medication. Gabapentin is a drug that is generally prescribed to treat a form of nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy.
Undergo a procedure called a cervical phrenic nerve block. The cervical and phrenic nerves control the diaphragm; the nerve block reduces the irritation and inflammation of the nerves that are causing the hiccups. The August 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reports that a nerve block of this kind successfully stopped chemotherapy-induced hiccups as quickly as within 5 minutes in some patients.
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.