What Is Hiccup?

Hiccups occur due to the contraction of the diaphragm, a delicate muscle that separates the chest and abdomen. An abrupt spasm of the diaphragm causes a sudden deep breath which makes the vocal cord close, leading to a hiccup. It could be annoying but won’t cause any serious effects. However, if you experience it often, you should consult with a health adviser immediately. Continue reading to know why hiccups occur.

Why Do Hiccups Occur?

Reasons for Hiccups

Hiccups may occur for several reasons. Here are some factors that cause frequent hiccups. 

  • Overeating 
  • Gulping the food quickly 
  • Drinking carbonated beverages 
  • Feeling nervous 
  • Alcohol 
  • Smoking
  • Consuming hot/ cold drinks
  • Changes in temperature 
  • Stress/Excitement 

Hiccups can be a symptom of some diseases, such as,

  • Heartburn/Acid refluxes
  • Pneumonia 
  • Asthma 
  • Tumor 
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic disorders 
  • Bowel diseases 

Some medications are also linked to hiccups namely,

Long-Term Hiccups 

Long Term Hiccups

Hiccups usually last for a short period. However, if a person gets long-term hiccups, it could be a sign of any disorder like encephalitis, meningitis, diabetes, or kidney failure. Besides these disorders, drugs and steroids can also cause hiccups. Anesthesia, a medicine used to block pain, can trigger hiccups. If a person has prolonged hiccups after eating, breathing, or sleeping, they must consult a physician. 

When Should One Worry about Hiccups?

The blockage of the vocal cord is what leads to that sound you experience while hiccuping. While it lasts only for a matter of minutes, there arises a reason for concern when hiccups last for more than 48 hours. Sometimes, it could be an abdominal disease, gastroenteritis, or even pneumonia. If it occurs frequently or disrupts your everyday chores, it is wise to consult your general practitioner as early as possible who will further suggest if any tests have to be taken.

How to Get Rid of Hiccups?

In this section, we will see how to get rid of hiccups. They can stop as soon as they begin. However, in some cases like persistent hiccups, or intractable hiccups, they require certain medications to be cured. Chlorpromazine, baclofen, haloperidol, and metoclopramide are the medications usually preferred to stop hiccups. Sedatives, muscle relaxants, analgesics, and stimulants also restrain hiccups. In the instances where medications do not work, phrenic nerve surgery is performed as a final solution, but it is pretty rare. 

Home Remedies to Stop Hiccups

Home Remedies to Stop Hiccups

Hiccups can be stopped with simple home remedies. Here are some tips to follow.

  • Gargling with ice water 
  • Giving ice massage to your face 
  • Sucking ice cubes 
  • Breathing into a paper bag
  • Holding your breath for a while 
  • Drinking a glass of water 
  • Tasting a lemon 
  • Take a slow and deep breath 
  • Doing a simple workout – Sit down and pull your knees to the chest for a minute 
  • Asking someone to scare you suddenly
  • Taking a spoonful of granulated sugar 

Things to Avoid When You Hiccup

  • Hot drinks 
  • Sodas 
  • Alcohol 
  • Smoking
  • Chewing gum
  • Spicy food 
  • Eating fast 
  • Consuming hot and cold food at the same time 

Facts about Hiccups

  1. The medical term for hiccups is singultus (derived from the Latin word meaning ‘sob’).
  2. Hiccups could sometimes be a side effect of certain types of medication that cause acid reflux.
  3. All mammals could hiccup! Now, that’s something you didn’t know before, right?
  4. The longest recorded hiccups lasted for around 60 years. latest research Charles Osborne, a US man, began hiccoughing in 1922 while weighing a hog. Despite a lack of cure, he lived a normal life until February 1990.
  5. Ultrasound imaging has captured a fetus hiccuping and there might be chances your baby is hiccuping right now if you are pregnant.
  6. Hiccups that last for long hours can lead to insomnia (a condition of sleeplessness).
  7. Hiccups are not hereditary. It has nothing to do with genes or family history.

When Should You Approach a Doctor?

You must visit a doctor if the hiccup arises with stomach pain, fever, vomiting, coughing up blood, or breath issues.