As many as 27% of patients in palliative care get hiccups. In some cases, the cause is benign. However, there are many causes of hiccups—namely, serious underlying conditions—that indicate you should see a doctor.
What are hiccups, exactly, and how can you get rid of hiccups? Read on to find out.
After reading this guide, you can determine if the root cause of your hiccups indicates it’s time to see a doctor. You can also use these easy hiccup remedies to keep them from persisting. Learn all about hiccups today!
What Are Hiccups?
First, let’s answer the question that likely brought you to this guide in the first place: what are hiccups, exactly?
Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. Your diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. Usually, the diaphragm pulls downward with each inhale before relaxing when you exhale.
However, anything that irritates the diaphragm can cause it to spasm. You’ll suddenly suck air into the throat, causing the air to hit your voice box.
After each contraction, there’s a sudden closure of the vocal cords, which causes the “hic” sound associated with hiccups.
Hiccups are usually a symptom of another issue. Sometimes, hiccups are accompanied by a tightening sensation in the throat, abdomen, or chest.
What are hiccups causes?
The causes of hiccups are either often physical or emotional. The irritation that occurs happens in the nerve that connects your diaphragm to the brain.
You might experience hiccups if you:
- Feel excited or nervous
- Eat too much
- Eat too quickly
- Feel stressed
- Swallow air when chewing gum or sucking on candy
- Experience a sudden change in temperature
- Drink carbonated beverages
- Drink too much alcohol
However, persistent hiccups that last over 48 hours could indicate nerve damage, a central nervous system disorder, or cardiovascular disease.
For example, hiccups could indicate a tumor, multiple sclerosis, asthma, or heart attack. Chronic hiccups might indicate diabetes, kidney disease, or alcohol use disorder.
Medications like barbiturates and steroids can also cause hiccups.
Making Them Stop
There are a few hiccup remedies you can try at home to stop hiccuping. For example, you can hold your breath to increase carbon dioxide levels. You can also breathe slowly into a paper bag or try sucking on a small piece of ice.
Gargling with ice water to soothe irritation in the diaphragm might help, too.
Otherwise, you can get rid of hiccups with these helpful remedies. Discover more here.
Take a Breath: Stop Hiccuping With These Tips Today
To recap, what are hiccups? They’re a sudden contraction of the diaphragm that can trigger a “hic” sound. In some cases, hiccups could indicate a more serious health problem.
If these hiccup remedies don’t work, consider visiting a doctor to determine if you have a serious medical condition.
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