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We have all had unexpected and sometimes untimely hiccups, but it is an involuntary, intermittent spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm, causing abnormal inspiration and abrupt closure of the glottis. When it happens to us, it bothers us, but it happens to our baby. Is hiccup dangerous in a young child? ¿Dos and Don'ts for Baby Hiccups?
At the physiological level, hiccups are related to the functioning of various parts of the body: the phrenic nerve (communicates the diaphragm and the brain), the hypothalamus, the respiratory brain centers, the reticular formation, the sympathetic chain and the reflex arc of the X cranial nerve (vagus nerve) in their functions in the back of the nose and the throat, ear, larynx, and stomach.
Hiccups can be acute, lasting less than 48 hours; persistent, when its duration is greater than 48 hours and less than a month, and refractory, when it persists for more than a month. Most of the time it lasts a few minutes and does not have repercussions on health, although if it lasts over time, it can cause insomnia, respiratory disorders and eating.
This contraction is considered normal in newborns and babies under one year of age., since their nervous and digestive systems are not yet fully developed, so they can present frequent episodes of hiccups.
Premature babies tend to have more hiccups than full-term babies, and more than 3 or 6-month-olds. It has even been shown, by ultrasound, that while still inside the belly, a fetus can hiccup after 8 weeks of gestation and, in the last trimester, hiccups at the rate of 6 times per minute.
Causes of hiccups in newborns and babies include: gastric distention from aerophagia (swallowing air), poor latch on to the breast, eating too fast, using the wrong nipples, overeating, sudden changes in your body temperature , crying spells, fever, sleep deprivation, or laughter for a long time.
When these situations occur, moms, especially new ones, are confused and do not know what to do or how to react. Here are some tips!
- Try that the baby does not eat too fast.
- Try to make him pauses during the feeding process.
- Feed him in a relaxed and calm environment.
- Avoid drafts when you go to undress your baby to change his diaper or to bathe him.
Even though we know that it is a physiological process due to its immaturity in its development, if the baby has hiccups, the parents want to eliminate it immediately. Acute hiccups have no medical treatment, so many of the recommendations that have become popular are based on trying to 'distract' the brain with another sensation:
- Make the baby suckWhether you breastfeed him or give him the pacifier, he will automatically pause to swallow and shut off the air passage to his diaphragm (this is the most effective).
- Tickle the palate (gently) with a cotton swab or cover the baby's ears with your fingers. These gestures overload other vagus nerve endings and distract your attention from hiccups.
- Gently caress your baby's nose. This will cause you to sneeze and your diaphragm will relax, disrupting the hiccup cycle.
- Gently massage your carotid artery into your neck.
- Give him massages and gently pat his back, like when you want to remove the gases after feeding. This will cause you to burp, interrupting the hiccup cycle.
And now that you know what to do in case your offspring has hiccups, we must mention those home remedies, sometimes applied by adults, which under no circumstances should be performed with a baby.
- Give him a scare or cover his little nose To make him hold his breath for a few seconds are not advisable measures, because this will generate anguish and stress for your baby.
- You should not put him to bed while he has hiccups, you will end up crying and swallowing more air, making your hiccups last longer.
One last recommendation, in the face of persistent and, even more, refractory hiccups, you should go to the pediatrician, since your baby must be evaluated to rule out underlying pathologies. And it is that according to the report 'Hiccups, an inane sign in pediatrics', prepared by the Spanish Society of Out-of-hospital Pediatrics and Primary Care, Faculty of Health Sciences. University of Zaragoza (Spain), 'a systematized approach to the patient with persistent hiccups can avoid serious discomfort, identify underlying diseases and save some lives'.
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