May 18, 2024

What are hiccups and why do we have them?

Everyone has hiccups, but what are they? Hiccups, medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. Each contraction has a sudden closure of your vocal cords, which produces the “hic” sound. Rarely, hiccups can last for months, which results in weight loss and exhaustion.

Hiccups are a symptom and if your hiccups last for more than 48 hours or are severe enough to cause problems with eating, breathing, or sleeping, you should contact a doctor. Causes of hiccups are

  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Eating to much in one sitting
  • Excitement or emotional stress
  • Sudden temperature changes
  • Swallowing air
  • Chewing gum

Long-Term Hiccups

Long-term hiccups can cause damage or irritation to the vagus nerves or phrenic nerves which serve the diaphragmic muscle. Long-term hiccups can be triggered by

  • Anesthesia
  • Diabetes
  • Steroids
  • Kidney Disease
  • Tranquilizers
  • Alcoholism
  • Barbiturates

Men are much more likely to develop long-term hiccups than women.

How to Stop a Hiccup

To stop or prevent a hiccup

  • Breathe into a paper bag
  • Pull your knees up to your chest and lean forward
  • Drink ice-cold water
  • Swallow granulated sugar
  • Bite on a lemon
  • Hold your breathe for a few seconds
  • Drink water upside down