Hiccups, also called hiccoughs, are caused by the vocal chords suddenly closing in response to a sudden contraction of the diaphragm.
Hiccups are an extremely common occurrence and usually are not serious. Hiccup attacks that do not go away, while rare, may require medication or surgery as they cause severe exhaustion.
Hiccups occur when your diaphragm (the thin layer of muscle that separates your chest cavity from your abdomen) suddenly and involuntarily contracts (tightens).
As your diaphragm contracts, it causes you to breathe in air very quickly. The incoming air is stopped when your glottis (the opening between your vocal cords) closes suddenly, producing the characteristic sound of a hiccup.
Most cases of hiccups occur for no apparent reason. Everyone experiences a short bout of hiccups from time to time. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about.
The most common causes of short-term hiccups are:
- consuming large amounts of alcohol
- excessive smoking
- a bloated stomach – usually as a result of eating or drinking too quickly
- a sudden change in room temperature
- a sudden change in the temperature inside your stomach
Sometimes, short-term hiccups may also occur as a result of:
- stress – the feeling of being under pressure
See below for more information about psychological factors that can cause hiccups.
People experiencing short-term hiccups usually get better without the need for treatment.
In rare cases, persistent and intractable hiccups can be caused by a more serious underlying condition, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) (see below). However, in other cases the cause of hiccups remains unknown (idiopathic).
Several conditions can cause hiccups. However, even with testing and investigation an underlying cause can sometimes not be identified.
Possible Underlying Conditions:
Some of the conditions that can cause long-term hiccups include:
- gastrointestinal conditions – such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or a small bowel obstruction
- respiratory conditions – such as asthma, pneumonia or pleurisy
- conditions affecting the central nervous system – such as stroke, a tumour affecting the brain,encephalitis or a traumatic brain injury
- a condition causing irritation of the vagus nerve(which could disrupt nerve signals in your body) – such as goitre, pharyngitis or meningitis
- a psychological reaction – such as shock, fear, grief, excitement, hysterical behaviour, anxiety or stress
- conditions affecting your metabolism (the way your body digests food) – such as diabetes, hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia
Persistent hiccups can sometimes be caused by a reaction to certain types of medication. For example:
- anaesthesia – medication given before a surgical operation or procedure that causes a loss of sensation
- corticosteroids – medication that reduces inflammation (swelling)
- benzodiazepines – a type of sedative that helps to reduce anxiety
- barbiturates – a type of sedative sometimes used to prevent seizures (fits)
- opioids – medication used to treat pain; morphine and methadone are both strong opioids
- methyldopa – medication used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension)
Prolonged hiccups can sometimes cause a number of complications. For example, in some cases it can lead to:
- weight loss, due to difficulty eating
Visit your doctor or another healthcare professional if you have hiccups that have lasted longer than 48 hours and you are unsure about what is causing them.
Chew a piece of dry or charred toast, very slowly, or sip a glass of water while walking slowly but continuously, until hiccups stop.
Charcoal tablets or chewable papaya enzymes can cause hiccup attacks to abate.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
Yoga has proven beneficial for alleviating and preventing hiccups
Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
. Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here or go towww.thetappingsolution.com or www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
TCM as a cure for hiccups caused by cranial surgery: tcmdiscovery.com/TCM-Literature/info/20090213-13458.html
Eliminating hiccups through yoga breathing: www.diylife.com/2007/08/16/eliminating-hiccups-through-yoga-breathing
Ayurveda Home remedy for hiccups: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC5OG2YM49k
Stop hiccups in 10 seconds: www.ehow.com/video_4951590_stop-hiccups-only-10-seconds.html
Hiccups that last for years: rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/Condition/6657/Chronic_hiccups.aspx
Teen develops her own cure: www.medindia.net/news/cure-for-hiccups-developed-100995-1.htm
Further Information (links and books)
How To Cure Hiccups by Seth Borders
Charcoal Capsules, Source Naturals www.sourcenaturals.com
Chewable papaya enzymes Original www.ihealthtree.com (888) 225-7778
Chamomile tea, Yogi Tea www.herbalremedies.com (646) 580-6684
Andrea Butje | Aromahead [email protected] – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt [email protected] – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA [email protected] – meditation, stress
judith hoad [email protected] – herbalist.
Kath May [email protected] – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges [email protected] – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika [email protected] – aromatherapy.
Rakesh [email protected] – Ayurvedic Practitioner.