Hiccups are a common occurrence, but they can be really annoying. Hiccups are the worst! I know, right? They’re so annoying, and they won’t go away. But there are ways to get rid of them.
Read this blog post for more information on hiccups and what you can do about them.
What are hiccups?
Hiccups are involuntary diaphragm spasms. Diaphragm muscle separates the chest from the abdomen.
The contracting and relaxing of this muscle results in brief periods when vocal cords snap shut, followed by “hip” sounds being produced.
Scientists believe hiccups are caused by irritation to one of two structures that regulate the contractions and relaxations of the diaphragm.
- The first is the phrenic or vagus nerves, which control the diaphragm’s movements.
- The second structure responsible for hiccups is the diaphragmatic sphincter, a circular band located around a hole in the abdominal wall.
What causes the hiccups?
How do hiccups happen? The usual explanation of hiccups is that these involuntary contractions are caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the stomach (which makes it expand and push against the diaphragm, pushing down on your vocal cords and giving you a hiccup).
This would be fine as far as it goes, but what causes people to get the buildup of carbon dioxide in the first place?
Eating too fast
The most common cause of hiccups is eating too fast. Many people (including me) often get them when they begin eating a meal after not eating for several hours.
If you eat very quickly, your food doesn’t have time to digest before you swallow it, so at some point during the process, you swallow some food before it has a chance to digest.
It then happens that it sits there in your stomach or intestines for a while until the enzymes in your saliva and/or on the surface of the stomach lining break down those complex sugars into simple sugars.
Eating too much at one sitting.
Another possible cause of hiccups could be eating too much at one sitting, especially if you get a lot of liquid into your stomach at once.
Liquids are usually absorbed more quickly than solid foods, so if you eat something that takes a long time to digest and then have something (like water) that takes little or no time to digest afterward, it could cause some food to sit in there for a while before it gets digested.
Or, if you eat a lot of food and then drink something that takes very little time to digest afterward, it could cause some food to sit in there for a while before being digested.
Drinking too much
Another possible cause of hiccups might be drinking too much liquid with your meal (again, especially if you do this in one sitting).
If you have a lot of liquid in your stomach at once, it’s possible that the food and drink might not mix well.
So part of your meal could get digested before the rest is pushed down into the small intestine, where most digestion occurs.
How do you get rid of hiccups? Home remedies
There are many hiccup remedies out there, but my favorite way to get rid of them is by doing the following:
Take a lemon
It’s a popular hiccup remedy. For example, a lemon wedge drenched in non-alcoholic Bitters helped cure 14 people’s hiccups on 16.
The great acidity of lemons has a calming effect on the hiccups. When you chew lemon, you interrupt your swallowing and breathing patterns.
So when you take this citrus vegetable, your body will be focused less on making those uncomfortable sounds and more so on enjoying its acidic taste.
The lemon juice is rich in different acids that manage to excite our taste buds when we swallow it! Spicy foods have a similar effect.
Breathing and posture techniques
Breathing a simple change of attitude could help relax the diaphragm. First, pretend to be calm, and measure your breathing accuracy by reading it.
Next, hold your knees in your chest for two minutes, which will put pressure on the diaphragm and make you hyperventilate if done too long.
Importantly, pressure points offer a way to release muscle tension and pain. For example, touching certain points on the body with your tongue can help relieve tension in the diaphragm or stimulate nerves that control the movement of breathing muscles.
You could also press on areas near your neck, such as either side of the carotid artery, for about five seconds.
It works pretty well for most people, and you don’t have to do it very hard either. Just open your mouth slightly.
You can pretend you need to yawn if you like, then let out a small burp. That little burp will usually be enough to take care of your hiccups if you get the timing right.
Making use of psychological strategies
Do you remember how you feel when you’re nervous? Do you remember the feeling before an exam or speech? You can still notice that you have a few hiccups.
Your stomach is tight, and your muscles are tense. Relaxing consciously will help you stay away from hiccups.
Breath deeply. You can relax your muscles with meditation. As you take deep breaths, you’re forcing additional oxygen into your bloodstream, which will help you to control your hiccups.
If you can focus on your breathing and keep it long enough, you should be able to get rid of your hiccups. However, it can be challenging to master your breathing. You can do this by practicing meditation or starting with yoga. It will help you stay calm and relax your body.
Swallow something sweet
For the occasional hiccup, a small amount of sugar may make all the difference. Some people think that ingesting something grainy (granulated sugar) might stimulate your vagus nerve and help stop a reflex. A study found that this strategy helped 19 out of 100 patients with minor hiccups.
Breathe in a paper bag
The next time you have hiccups, try breathing in a paper bag. Prick the bottom of the bag with a safety pin to allow air to flow freely. Unfortunately, this method may temporarily increase CO2 levels in your blood and cause myocardial contractions at faster rates.
Drink cold water
To get rid of hiccups, you can drink several sips of cold water. The change in temperature causes a stimulus on the vagus nerve, which is involved with the onset of hiccups and forces your diaphragm to contract. When you hold your breath for too long, something similar happens: motor pattern (movement) is blocked; this triggers an increase in carbon dioxide levels that are then released when breathing returns to normalcy!
Hiccups are a temporary annoyance that can be cured by simply waiting it out. Various methods exist and include swabbing your throat with an icky cotton brush, playing a video game, or doing some math puzzles in your head. Changing habits is the best way to avoid hiccups in the future. They should disappear within minutes.
When should you see a doctor about your hiccup problem?
Persistent hiccups can last for days, weeks, or months and are irritating, and have the ability to impact one’s health. If hiccupping persists after 48 hours of intense disruption in sleep and eating patterns, then it is advised that a doctor be visited as soon as possible.
Do you have chronic hiccups? Chronic hiccups are a symptom of an illness or condition. These contractions may happen for hours, days… sometimes even months (intractable hiccups)! Prolonged hiccups often develop after eating a large meal or drinking a carbonated beverage and typically go away on their own in less than 5 minutes.
How to get rid of hiccups? When you get hiccups, several things can cause them. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not always the food or drink we’ve consumed.
The most common cause for hiccups is swallowing air bubbles when drinking too quickly. To prevent this from happening next time, make sure to drink slowly and over a long period of time rather than gulping down your beverage at one go.
Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D.
Disclaimer: buildyourbody.org does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.