How To Get Rid Of Hiccups/What Causes Hiccups

Ten Ways to Deal with Hiccuping

Hiccuping is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, resulting in a sharp inhalation with the closure of the glottis, producing the familiar sound of “hiccup.” Everyone experiences this phenomenon at least once in their life, and today we’ll finally understand the causes and discuss ten effective ways to get rid of hiccups.

What is Hiccuping?

When the diaphragm contracts – the muscle separating the chest from the abdominal cavity – it triggers an involuntary inhalation, leading to temporary closure of the respiratory pathways. This process involves organs such as:

  • Throat
  • Pharynx
  • Vocal cords

Hiccuping can occur in anyone, regardless of age and gender, and it has various causes. Generally, it’s considered a normal phenomenon and often disappears on its own within a few minutes. However, if the symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, immediate medical attention is necessary.

Why Do Humans Hiccup?

The causes of hiccups can be either mild or cause significant concern.

Physiological Causes of Hiccuping:

  1. Emotional Stress: During stress, there’s activation of the peripheral nervous system, which can lead to the contraction of the diaphragm. Additionally, hormone levels such as adrenaline and noradrenaline fluctuate, which can also affect the functioning of the respiratory muscles.
  2. Overeating: Consuming large amounts of food can cause the stomach to expand and press against the diaphragm. The presence of air in the stomach may also be an additional contributing factor.
  3. Drinking Carbonated Beverages: The presence of carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages leads to excess gas accumulation upon entering the digestive system. This may stimulate the expansion of the stomach wall and mechanical irritation of the diaphragm.
  4. Body Temperature Changes: Ingestion of cold food or drinks may cause blood vessels in the stomach to contract, potentially causing muscle contraction in this area.
  5. Smoking: Smoking causes a contraction of the diaphragm, leading to its sudden contraction and a strong flow of air into the lungs. This effect is associated with the activation of the peripheral nervous system.

Hiccuping as a Sign of Disease:

It’s important to know that there is abnormal hiccuping considered a sign of a variety of diseases. Among these diseases are:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which occurs when the muscle responsible for moving food from the esophagus to the stomach relaxes, leading to the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus and irritation of local receptors.
  • Hiatal Hernia: where the mechanism of hiccuping is similar to GERD.
  • Obesity: Increased fat in the abdominal cavity may displace organs and increase pressure on the diaphragm.
  • Gastritis, Esophagitis: Upper gastrointestinal mucosal inflammation may lead to irritation of receptors in respiratory muscles.
  • Indigestion: Delayed gastric emptying is associated with mechanical pressure on the diaphragm.
  • Hyperventilation Syndrome: Characterized by diaphragmatic spasm due to imbalance in the mineral balance of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Cancer: Hiccuping can result from the disease itself as well as side effects of treatment (such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy).

Hiccuping can be a particular problem for patients with malignancies due to weakness, nausea, and other side effects of treatment. A variety of medications can be used to treat symptoms, including antiemetics and other palliative treatments.

Types of Hiccuping:

Hiccuping is divided into simple and complex (difficult to heal). In the first case, it involves a short-term phenomenon that may resolve spontaneously. Complex hiccuping persists for more than two days and requires medical intervention.

Other classifications can be found in various sources. Hiccuping is separately distinguished in infants. This is a physiological condition due to the immaturity of the infant’s nervous system and usually resolves on its own.

Hiccuping is also common in pregnant women, associated with hormonal changes and increased pressure from the growing fetus on the diaphragm. It stops quickly and does not require any additional intervention.

Ways to Stop Hiccuping: 10 Methods

To get rid of hiccups and feel comfortable, we have compiled 10 tried-and-tested methods to stop hiccups at home. Here are these methods:

  1. Breath Holding: Practice deep breathing and hold your breath for a few seconds. This helps relax the diaphragm.
  2. Tongue Stimulation: Stimulate tongue reflexes by clicking or touching it sharply.
  3. Acid Consumption: Drink a little lemon juice or chew on a slice of lemon. This simple action helps alleviate hiccups.
  4. Sugar Consumption: Take a small spoonful of sugar. This will stimulate the necessary nerve impulses to stop hiccups.
  5. Breathing Exercise: Breathe deeply and then exhale slowly, focusing on relaxing the diaphragm.
  6. Use of Acupressure Points: Gently but firmly press on the area between the eyebrows at the nose. This may stop hiccups.
  7. Involuntary Movements: Ask someone to surprise you or slap your back suddenly. This will help restore the diaphragm to its natural position.
  8. Shock: Be surprised or scared to stop hiccups. For example, ask someone to touch your shoulder suddenly or press their finger on your head.
  9. Pressure on the Diaphragm: Press in the area where the ribs end to relieve pressure on the nerves causing hiccups. For example, you can make a fist and place it on the diaphragm or bend forward and press your knees to your chest.
  10. Massage the Swallowing Area: Wipe the corner where the head turns into the neck. Massage the area with gentle circular motions using your fingertips.

As shown, the key is to relax and restore the natural activity of the nerves and muscles involved in the breathing process.

How to Get Rid of Hiccups Quickly:

The easiest way to get rid of hiccups quickly is to drink a glass of water slowly while opening your chest wide. You can also put a piece of ice in your mouth and keep it until it melts completely. If you don’t have water or ice at hand, start swallowing movements regularly. All of this will help change your breathing pattern and relax the necessary muscles.

Additionally, the following procedure may help get rid of hiccups quickly:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Exhale slowly.
  • Repeat this process as needed.

If hiccups continue to bother you, try to distract yourself with other activities. For example, focus on your breathing, work, your surroundings, or give yourself enjoyable moments.

When to See a Doctor?

Hiccups are usually a temporary phenomenon that does not require specialized medical attention. However, if they persist for more than two days or are accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, it is advisable to visit a doctor.

In certain cases, serious medications may be prescribed to alleviate this annoying condition, such as anticonvulsants and dopamine antagonists. Surgical intervention is rarely used as a sole means to get rid of hiccups.

What is the Risk of Hiccups?

Generally, hiccups are not considered serious. However, in some cases, hiccups may indicate problems in the cardiovascular system, stroke, epilepsy, or other serious illnesses. In such instances, the appearance of this symptom can lead to serious complications. Among these complications are:

  1. Breathing cessation: This often occurs in newborns. It can happen if hiccups persist for an excessively long period or occur very frequently.
  2. Esophageal tear: In cases of excessive hiccups, especially when the body is heavily saturated, tearing of the esophagus can occur, posing a risk of bleeding and infection.
  3. Heart problems: Hiccups may be associated with arrhythmias or heart attacks. If accompanied by chest pain or difficulty breathing, immediate medical assistance is necessary.
  4. Neurological disorders: Hiccup spasms are often associated with neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s).

Research has shown that hiccups do not serve any known physiological function, so they should be eliminated as quickly as possible regardless of their severity.