Hiccup Girl: "I have Tourette's"

6:27 PM, Jan 10, 2008   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - The St. Petersburg girl who garnered national media attention for a bad spell of hiccups last year has been diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome.

16-year-old Jennifer Mee says it became clear Tourette's was the issue when the hiccups started again before school this fall.

Her neurologist, Lisa Brunton of Pediatric Neurology Associates, told her hiccups can be a "tic" consistent with Tourette's. Tics are often caused by stress or anxiety. Brunton suggested Mee start taking Orap, an anti-psychotic drug that's often prescribed to schizophrenics and people with Tourette's.

Mee had tried Orap when her hiccups first started, but at that time, she was also trying a lot of other methods.

This time, the hiccups stopped for good.

"I don't know how they [diagnosed me with] Tourette's because I don't twitch or anything like that. But, I guess [the] hiccups when I blinked... made me move and stuff," Mee said.

Since September, Mee has taken one tablet each night. Each month since, the dosage has been increased. And Mee hasn't had a bad bout of hiccups in the last six weeks.

A Tampa neurologist says she's not convinced Mee's hiccups were caused by a Tourette's tic. She says tics are voluntary actions like coughing or blinking. Hiccups are involuntary.

But Evan Michaels, a licensed clinical social worker who works with the Tourette Syndrome Association, disputes that.

"It's definitely plausible for someone to have a hiccup with a tic," he said by phone interview Thursday afternoon.

Michaels indicated hiccups can be a type of verbal tic, a category which also includes spitting, throat-clearing and yelling.

For now, Mee is just thankful to have a handle on her hiccups. She'll keep taking her medication and keep hoping they don't come back.

"We're gonna knock on wood for that one," she said with a chuckle.

Janie Porter, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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