Brazil's president hospitalized amid chronic hiccup scare

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself lying in a hospital bed with multiple monitoring sensors stuck to his bare torso amid a bout of incessant hiccupping – as doctors said they wouldn’t operate immediately on an intestinal obstruction.

The 66-year-old, who was admitted to the Armed Forces Hospital in the capital of Brasilia, was “feeling well,” according to an initial statement about his hiccups.

But hours later, Bolsonaro office said the surgeon who operated on Bolsonaro after he was stabbed during the 2018 presidential campaign decided to transfer him to Sao Paulo, where he underwent additional tests.

By Wednesday night, the Hospital Nova Star released a statement saying Bolsonaro would receive “a conservative clinical treatment,” meaning he will not go through surgery for the time being.

The 2018 abdominal stabbing caused intestinal damage and serious internal bleeding. The president has gone through several surgeries since, some of which were unrelated to the attack.

Bolsonaro has appeared to struggle with speaking on various occasions recently and said he suffers from persistent hiccups.

“I apologize to everyone who is listening to me, because I’ve been hiccupping for five days now,” he said in an interview with Radio Guaiba on July 7. “I have the hiccups 24 hours a day.”

He suggested that some medications prescribed after dental surgery might be the cause.  

Bolsonaro, who is both Catholic and evangelical, posted the hospital photo on his official Twitter account. He is seen with his eyes closed, with a hand reaching out from an unseen person wearing what appears to be a black religious robe and a long chain with a gold cross.

Chronic hiccups are usually the manifestation of an underlying problem, such as an obstructed intestine, Dr. Anthony Lembo, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told The Associate Press.

In some cases, part of the intestine might need to be removed, he said.

“Any time you’re moving bowels, it’s not a small surgery,” Lembo said, adding that in the case of repeated surgeries, interventions get more complicated.

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