Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease (CBCD)

Non-Stop Hiccups Can Be Caused by Herpes Zoster; the CBCD Examines the Medical Evidence

The varicella zoster virus can cause a wide range of prodromal symptoms including fever, intense weariness, and hiccups. (1)


Rochester, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/28/2015 -- "Infected with the varicella zoster virus (the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles)? The CBCD recommends talking to your doctor about a study published in the peer reviewed medical journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy. The study discusses effective, natural remedies designed to help reduce VZV symptoms." - Greg Bennett, CBCD

The shingles virus (VZV) can cause non-stop hiccups. A hiccup is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs, with a sudden closure of the glottis and a characteristic sound like that of a cough. The varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a herpes virus, which causes both chickenpox and shingles. When this virus causes shingles (also known as herpes zoster or HZ), it can also sometimes cause hiccups that do not go away on their own. This usually occurs during the prodrome (the time just before typical VZV symptoms develop). As Dr. Reddy and colleagues wrote "motor symptoms such as hiccups occur … in the prodrome of HZ." (1)

Dr. Reddy described one such case like this: "an otherwise healthy 29-year-old male patient presented with a three-day history of unilateral, grouped vesicles (beginning blisters) over the left side of neck and upper chest. Two days prior to the skin eruption, he developed persistent hiccups which occurred relentlessly." (1)

Click to learn more about shingles symptoms.

The CDC notes that the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is a herpes virus, causes both chickenpox and shingles. "After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in the body. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles." (2) Additionally, the CDC adds that "almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, in their lifetime. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in this country. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles; even children can get shingles. However the risk of shingles increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women 60 years old or older." (See the CDC, last reviewed on May 1, 2014) (2)

Are there treatments currently on the market, which target the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)?

Yes there are.

Zostavax is a vaccine that may reduce the risk of developing a shingles outbreak, and decrease the long-term pain from post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). In adults vaccinated at age 60 years or older, however, protection from the vaccine decreases within the first 5 years after vaccination. (2)

There are also antiviral drugs, such as Zovirax or Valtrex. However, these medications, when effective, only work to shorten the time of the shingles outbreak. They are ineffective against the latent VZV virus. (2)The CBCD therefore recommends that individuals talk to their doctors about the study mentioned above, which was published in Pharmacology & Pharmacy.

Individuals can print up the study, and show it to their doctors.

The study can be viewed and downloaded in .pdf format, here:


(1) Belum Viswanath Reddy, Geetanjali Sethi, Asok Aggarwal "Persistent hiccups: A rare prodromal manifestation of herpes zoster" Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, Published 2007

(3) - "Shingles (Herpes Zoster)" - Prevention & Treatment. Last Reviewed on May 1, 2014.