The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a systemic illness that implies neurological features and complications. Persistent (>48 hours) hiccups (ie, singultus or hiccoughs) have been recently described as a rare presentation of COVID-19. Even when considered benign, the frequency and duration of hiccup spells can be burdensome and sometimes difficult to treat.
We report the case of a 62-year-old man known by the treating physicians for vascular cognitive impairment, who consulted for progressive persistent hiccups that commenced 5 days earlier, about 24 hours after testing positive for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. The patient could barely sleep because the hiccups reached the highest rate of 47 per minute in a spell lasting almost 72 hours. The patient initially received levomepromazine 25 mg by mouth, but sedation and delirium impeded the continuation of treatment, which only reduced the frequency of the hiccup spells by about 25%. Afterward, the patient was offered levosulpiride 25 mg thrice a day by mouth, resulting in a steady reduction in the hiccups rate, as well as the duration and daily frequency of spells, which disappeared after 3 days of levosulpiride treatment. COVID-19 pneumonia was moderate by chest computed tomography scan imaging and biomarkers, meriting continuous oxygen therapy, dexamethasone 6 mg once a day by mouth for 10 days, and enoxaparin 40 mg once a day, subcutaneously, for 7 days (due to elevated D-dimer serum concentration). Oxygen therapy was gradually withdrawn after 12 days.
Oral levosulpiride is a suitable option in persistent hiccups that occur in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. To our knowledge, this is the fourth published case of persistent hiccups as a clinical feature of COVID-19.