What Causes Hiccups (And How to Get Rid of Them)

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What causes hiccups? According to a survey, this was the most asked health question on google in 2017 In this article, you’ll learn what hiccups are how to treat them at home, and when to go to the doctor.

Hiccups are a pretty common and embarrassing thing that can happen to anyone at any time (even during sleep). However, not everyone knows where they come from and how to properly stop them.

What Are Hiccups?

Hiccups are sudden and involuntary breath disturbances characterized by improper contractions of the diaphragm. That characteristic “hic” sound is the result of changes in air pressure coming from these muscle contractions and the vocal cords suddenly snapping shut in response.

Although a pesky disturbance, hiccups are not usually caused for alarm. However, hiccups that extend for more than 48 hours or recur over a period of weeks or months could be a sign of chronic health problems–rare, but still a possibility.

The following are the most common causes of hiccups:

• Swallowing Too Much Air

Swallowing too much air without realizing it, especially when eating, can cause a bout of hiccups. This can be prevented by eating and chewing food slowly without deep inhalations and slurping (for example, when drinking coffee or eating soup).

• Eating or Drinking Too Much

Hiccups that occur mostly after eating food or drinking alcohol is most likely a result of stomach and diaphragm irritation. More specifically, eating too much, eating spicy food, or drinking alcohol upsets the stomach and disturbs the delicate diaphragm muscle that surrounds it, which can trigger hiccups. Excessive or rapid consumption of carbonated beverages can also cause this problem.

• Fumes and Smoking

Spending time in a place full of smoke greatly increases the chances of developing hiccups because unclean air passes through the diaphragm and triggers muscle contractions.

• Heightened Emotions

It may sound bizarre, but heightened or sudden emotions like excitement, surprise, fear, or anxiety can trigger hiccups because they interfere with the nervous system and normal breathing patterns.

• Nerve-Irritating Disorders

Any disorder that causes nerve irritation such as lung disease, pneumonia, and liver disorders can also lead to chronic hiccups.

• Prescription Medications

Hiccups may also be caused by certain prescription medications that cause irritation of the diaphragm as a side effect. These include Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Zofran, barbiturates, corticosteroids, and chemotherapy drugs.

Tricks and Remedies to Get Rid of Hiccups

In most cases of occasional hiccups that are not the result of a chronic health problem, they can be stopped fast and easily with any of the following tricks and remedies:

• Holding the breath for 10 seconds and then gently exhaling.
• Pinching the nostrils closed while drinking a small glass of water quickly.
• Hugging the knees (bringing them to the chest area and keeping them in this position for two minutes before releasing).
• Sucking on an ice cube for one to two minutes.
• Gargling ice cold water.
• Sucking on a lemon.
• Placing a drop of vinegar on the tongue.
• Pressing the diaphragm with a finger, gently.
• Taking slow, deep breaths through the nose and swallowing hard. (Inhale, exhale, swallow, repeat.)

Note: Be cautious when using these tricks, as strong hiccups may lead to choking on whatever is in the mouth.

If none of the above quick fixes work or the bouts of hiccups happen on a regular basis, this could be a sign of a chronic health condition that should be examined by a doctor.

In some cases, medications are needed to ease the irritation of the diaphragm and reduce the intensity and frequency of hiccups, especially if nothing has worked thus far to stop them.

What Causes Hiccups (And How to Get Rid of Them)!
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