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Dexamethasone and hiccups: a 2000-patient, telephone-based study
  1. Christopher J Ehret1,
  2. Jennifer G Le-Rademacher2,
  3. Nichole Martin1 and
  4. Aminah Jatoi3
  1. 1Department of Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Division of Clinical Trials and Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3Department of Oncology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Aminah Jatoi, Department of Medical Oncology The Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN., Rochester, Minnesota, USA; Jatoi.Aminah{at}


Objectives Dexamethasone causes hiccups in an undefined percentage of patients, and these hiccups are often ignored (‘My doctors just shook their heads like I was joking …’). This study sought to learn the percentage of dexamethasone-treated patients who develop hiccups and to explore patients’ responses to the availability of educational materials on hiccups.

Methods English-speaking, adult outpatients treated with oral, intravenous or epidural dexamethasone 2 weeks prior were contacted by phone and asked about hiccups. Educational materials were offered, and patients were queried on their opinion of the availability of such materials.

Results One hundred and twenty-seven patients or 11% (95% CI 9% to 13%) reported hiccups. This percentage was derived from 1186 reachable patients from 2000 total patients. Fifty-four (43%) of those with hiccups desired to learn about educational materials. Of these, 49 completed a single-item, 5-point scale item: 21 (43%) viewed the availability of educational materials ‘extremely helpful,’ providing a 5 rating; 8 (16%) provided a 4; 4 (8%) provided a 3; and 1 (4%) provided a 2.

Conclusions Dexamethasone-induced hiccups occur in a small percentage of patients. The fact that most patients responded favourably to learning about the availability of educational materials suggests some have unmet needs.

  • hospice care
  • supportive care
  • symptoms and symptom management

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to this work, and all reviewed the final paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.