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14 Most Common Triggers Of Hiccups And Quick Tips To Get Rid Of 'Em

Hiccups are common, and almost everyone has experienced them at some point. The medical term for hiccup is singultus, derived from the Latin word 'singult', which means to catch one's breath while sobbing.

A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm (a dome-shaped muscle used during breathing is located just below the heart and lungs) and intercostal muscles (a group of muscles situated in between the ribs of the chest wall that assist with the breathing process). Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of the vocal cords, which produces the 'hic' sound during a hiccup [1].

Hiccups can occur in children, infants, adults, and even a fetus still in the womb. It usually lasts for a few minutes and goes away within 48 hours [2].

What Causes Hiccups? Know The Common Triggers

A variety of factors can cause hiccups. There is, however, no definitive list of triggers. In many cases, hiccups occur for no apparent reason [3].

Common triggers of hiccups may include the following [4]:

1. Eating too much.
2. Consuming spicy food.
3. Consuming alcohol.
4. Drinking carbonated beverages, like sodas.
5. Consuming very hot or icy foods.
6. A sudden change in air temperature.
7. Aerophagia (swallowing too much air).
8. Swallowing air while chewing gum.
9. Excitement or emotional stress.
10. Certain medications.
11. A condition in which the nerves that control the diaphragm are irritated (such as liver disease or pneumonia).
12. Surgery on the abdomen can also irritate the nerves controlling the diaphragm, resulting in hiccups.
13. Strokes and brain tumours that affect the brain stem and some chronic medical problems (such as renal failure) have been reported to cause hiccups.
14. Excessive exposure to toxic fumes can also cause hiccups.

The following medications may also cause hiccups as a side effect [5]:

  • Medications for acid reflux
  • Most benzodiazepines, including diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and lorazepam
  • Levodopa, nicotine, and ondansetron

Several factors can increase your chances of developing hiccups. For example, you may be more susceptible if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Are male
  • Have intense feelings, ranging from anxiety to excitement
  • Have had surgery, especially abdominal surgery
  • Have received general anaesthesia

When Should You Seek Medical Attention For Hiccups?

You should seek medical care in two scenarios.

First, if you experience hiccups for more than a couple of days, you should seek medical attention. It is imperative if the hiccups are keeping you from sleeping. Medications can help stop your hiccups if more traditional methods aren't working. In addition, if other medical causes are ruled out, your doctor may prescribe them [6].

Secondly, the onset of additional symptoms with hiccups is more critical than the duration [7].

If you experience symptoms like numbness, coordination issues, and hiccups, you should seek emergency care. This could indicate a stroke, which is serious and requires immediate treatment.

Quick Tips To Manage Hiccups At Home

Some of these treatments have not been proven to stop hiccups, but you can try the following potential treatments at home:

  • Take a deep breath into a paper bag.
  • Take a teaspoon of granulated sugar.
  • Hold your breath.
  • Drink a glass of cold water.
  • With a spoon, lift the fleshy piece of tissue at the back of your throat, the uvula.
  • Purposefully gasp or belch.
  • Pull on your tongue.
  • Place your knees on your chest and hold this position.
  • Exhale forcibly while closing your mouth and nose and performing the Valsalva manoeuvre.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.

On A Final Note...

Be aware of your body. If you experience any cardiovascular symptoms during the onset of hiccups, visit an emergency department and get evaluated right away. If you're not experiencing any other symptoms, give it a few days.

Read more about: hiccups home remedies triggers
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