DEAR DR. ROACH: I have a strange question to ask and hope you can answer it in your newspaper article. Every time I stand up from being in bed, I get hiccups that last about a minute or so (at least a dozen hiccups). I was wondering if there is a medical reason for this, or is it something that is just a fluke that happens to me? — N.C.
ANSWER: It’s not just you; I have heard of several cases, and I suspect it’s not that rare. It’s thought to be brought on by a change in position of the stomach, which causes a reflex in the diaphragm. Esophageal irritation, especially from reflux disease (stomach acid going backward into the esophagus), also might be a cause.
The booklet on heartburn explains reflux disease. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 501W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am an 85-year-old woman living in a nursing facility. A little before my arrival here, I began experiencing night sweats. I have seen my doctor regarding this, and he said he cannot help me. I feel weak when I wake in the morning, and I need to constantly change the towels I put under myself. This is a big concern. — A.M.
ANSWER: I take night sweats seriously. Tuberculosis is the classic cause of night sweats, which is of immense concern in a nursing facility, where most people are tested for TB yearly. But other chronic infections, high thyroid levels and even blood and marrow diseases like lymphoma can show up with night sweats. Most of the time, a chest X-ray and blood tests, along with a careful exam, can make the diagnosis. Other times, it’s harder to find. More often, it goes away as mysteriously as it came. But it is worth another look.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Several months ago, I developed a hernia on my right side, but with no pain. My doctor said I do not need an operation, because there is no pain. Do you agree? I am 74 and in exceptionally good health.
ANSWER: A hernia is a weakness or defect in the abdominal wall, through which abdominal structures can pass. Watchful waiting is a reasonable choice for an asymptomatic hernia — one that causes no symptoms — since only a minority of people with a diagnosed hernia will need surgery due to development of symptoms. The biggest risk is part of the intestine coming through the hernia and be-