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Family begs for answers as teen’s painful hiccups have not stopped for over 8 months

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IDAHO FALLS — Abigail Harris just wants to know what’s wrong.

Every day, for overeight months, the 18-year-old has been in pain and nobody has answers.

It all started the day after Thanksgiving when Abigail got hiccups that would not stop. Her mom, Angela Harris, posted about it on Facebook five days later.

“Her throat and stomach hurt from the constant hiccups. She is exhausted and hasn’t even been able to go to school,” Harris wrote Dec. 1.

“So we take her to the doctor and they tried some medication for chronic hiccups. It doesn’t work so then they send us on to the ear, nose and throat doctor,” Harris tells EastIdahoNews.com.

That didn’t help either and the hiccups turned into uncontrollable painful moans and tics.

Multiple tests, biopsies, endoscopies, medications and other treatments were tried but nothing helped.

abigal in hospital
Abigail Harris has endured multiple tests, biopsies, endoscopies, medications and other treatments to cure her chronic hiccups but nothing has helped. | Courtesy Angela Harris

“About Christmas time she went in and was put under anesthesia. They did ketamine therapy and she woke up with hiccups. It didn’t work,” Harris explains.

Chronic hiccups are extremely rare. The National Institute of Health estimates less than 50,000 people in America have them. They lead to insomnia, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition, depression and anxiety – all symptoms Abigail has experienced.

“It’s every single day. I get short breaks sometimes but other than that it won’t stop,” Abigail says.

Abigail ended up withdrawing from her senior year at Thunder Ridge High School and finishing her schooling online. She’s lost 20 pounds, can’t work and she has visited with countless specialists.

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Abigail and Angela Harris | Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com

“She’s had MRIs, CT scans and a spinal tap,” Harris says. “We’ve been to holistic doctors, she’s done energy healing, acupuncture, chiropractic – nothing has helped. It’s only gotten worse.”

It’s hard to explain how the hiccups and tics feel but Abigail says they are painful. The one break she gets is when she goes to sleep. The hiccups and tics stop, which is what happens to people with Tourette syndrome. That disorder is characterized by sudden, unwanted movements or vocal sounds.

“The two neurologists that she’s seeing both said it wasn’t Tourette but maybe it wasn’t then or maybe it was slowly progressing so they didn’t see it,” Harris says.

Another possibility Harris and her daughter have considered? A reaction to COVID-19. While Abigail never noticeably had the virus, Harris says COVID has shown up in Abigail’s bloodwork over the months.

“It makes me wonder if she had COVID and this is some weird neurological symptom from that,” Harris wonders. “Or not. I don’t know.”

And “I don’t know” has been the story of Abigail and her family since November. They feel like they’ve tried everything, but they’re not giving up.

“The doctors we’ve seen have all been really great and they’ve all done what they can. I do believe they’ve tried and they keep trying and they do want to find a reason,” Harris says.

abigal oxygen
Abigail Harris and her family are exploring alternative options to help cure her chronic hiccups. | Courtesy Angela Harris

Abigail will soon visit a third neurologist and a psychiatrist. Her family has considered alternative treatments in Mexico and is sharing Abigail’s story in hopes that someone else has experienced similar health issues. Harris invites anyone with potential solutions to email her at apharris2029@gmail.com.

“I don’t know how to live like this. She doesn’t know how to live like this. It’s heartbreaking as a parent not being able to help her when she’s looking at me begging for me to help and there’s nothing I can do,” Harris says.

WATCH THE VIDEO IN THE PLAYER ABOVE TO SEE HOW ABIGAIL HANDLES HER CONSTANT HICCUPS

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