What are hiccups?
Hiccups occur when your diaphragm automatically contracts. This causes the top of your windpipe to close which creates the ‘hic’ sound.
Usually hiccups only last a few minutes.
Here you will find more information about what causes hiccups, how to cure hiccups, and when to worry about hiccups.
What causes hiccups?
It’s common to get hiccups once in a while, and usually they will not last long. Hiccups which occur occasionally and only last for a short period may be caused by:
- excitement or intense emotions
- eating too much or too fast
- a sudden change in temperature
- drinking alcohol
- smoking a lot
In rare cases, people can get hiccups that keep coming back or that last for more than 48 hours. These hiccups may be due to a medical condition, such as:
- a stroke, head injury, or brain infection
- a heart condition such as a heart attack
- acid reflux
- a gallbladder infection
- an infection under the diaphragm
How to get rid of hiccups
Hiccup treatments will vary from person to person. Though there is no evidence to prove their effectiveness for everyone, some people find the following methods help to quickly get rid of hiccups:
- breathing into a paper bag
- holding your breath for a short period
- doing the Valsalva maneuver (take a deep breath, then keep the air inside while you push your muscles, as if you were trying to force the air out)
- pulling your knees up to your chest and leaning forward
- sipping ice cold water
- tasting lemon or vinegar
- gasping, as a result of someone making you jump
If your hiccups are caused by an underlying medical condition, treating that condition may get rid of the hiccups.
Sometimes medication is used to resolve hiccups, as well as acupuncture, or hypnotherapy. A specialist may also consider procedures to interrupt or block the phrenic nerve to help control persistent hiccups.
When to worry about hiccups
Sometimes hiccups that last for an extended period of time can be the result of a medical condition or a medication you're taking. You should see your doctor if:
- your hiccups last longer than 48 hours
- your hiccups keep coming back and are affecting your life.
You should seek immediate medical help if you have other symptoms with your hiccups, such as: