The causes of hiccups are multiple and should hardly ever be a cause for concern. Care should only be taken if the discomfort occurs very recurrently for a long time or if it is impossible to stop it for more than a month.
The causes of hiccups can be many, and there is no reason to worry in most cases. Still, it’s quite a hassle. The record for hiccups in history is said to be held by a man named Charles Osborne, who suffered from this discomfort for 68 years.
It has been recorded that men are more likely to suffer from hiccups than women. On many occasions, the fetus is perceived to have it, which is normal. Newborn babies are also prone to it, among other reasons, because their digestive system is maturing.
What are hiccups?
Hiccups are an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. It happens in a spasmodic, involuntary, and repetitive way. When you have hiccups, you experience a sudden breath of air.
The causes of hiccups can be many. Common in all cases is that the phrenic nerve, in charge of controlling the diaphragm, sends abnormal impulses. The diaphragm is a very important muscle for respiration in mammals.
The phrenic nerve controls this muscle’s contraction and relaxation activity, which enables air to flow in and out of the lungs when this nerve has impulses outside of normality, the diaphragm contracts suddenly with sudden inspiration and closure of the glottis.
Causes of hiccups
There are many possible causes of hiccups. Some of them have to do with daily activities, such as the following:
- Eat quickly.
- Ingesting carbonated drinks.
- Having a gastric distention caused by aerophagia.
- Drink alcoholic beverages.
- States of anxiety, agitation, or emotional stress.
- Exposing yourself to sudden changes in temperature.
Another cause of hiccups can be chewing gum or eating sweets while swallowing air and consuming very hot or spicy foods. Some hiccups appear after abdominal surgery or when suffering from metabolic disorders.
Some medications can cause hiccups. Likewise, the origin of this discomfort may be in central nervous system disorders, such as meningitis, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, and cerebrovascular accident.
Types of hiccups
Hiccups usually stop within a few minutes of starting. When the causes are daily activities and disappear in less than 48 hours, it is called acute, transitory, or self-limited. This modality is the one that manifests itself in most cases.
There is talk of persistent hiccups when it lasts more than 48 hours, but not more than a month. If it lasts more than four weeks, it is called refractory. In these cases, the discomfort is most likely an expression of certain underlying diseases requiring medical consultation.
Some of the causes of persistent or refractory hiccups are as follows:
- Hiatal hernia.
- Abdominal conditions, such as a subdiaphragmatic abscess.
- Central nervous system diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
- Toxic or metabolic causes, such as diabetes.
- Respiratory tract infections, such as the flu.
Since persistent hiccups can interfere with daily life’s normal development, you should see your doctor if you suffer from it. This type can lead a person not to eat properly because it prevents eating normally. It also leads to sleep disturbances, speech interference, and other associated ills.
Ways to end hiccups
Regardless of what causes hiccups, both medicine and popular lore offer many recipes to stop it. One of the best-known ways is to take a few sips of water, covering your ears. This simple technique helps increase the internal pressure in the chest and relax the phrenic nerve.
Another similar method is to drink water, but on the opposite side to the correct one. In other words, the person must bend the torso a little to do it without spilling a drop. This position helps normalize breathing and relax the diaphragm. Holding your breath for a few seconds is also effective.
Doing diaphragm exercises is advised. One option is to lie on the floor on your back and bring your knees up to your chest, or as far as possible, and stay that way for a few minutes. Or, sitting on the floor with your legs extended, stretch your arms to touch your feet’ balls, compress the diaphragm area, and stop the hiccups.
Other very popular tips are to drink a glass of cold water, take a few series of mouth and nose breaths into a paper bag, and even gargle with ice water in one gulp. Some recommend eating a lemon wedge or a tablespoon of sugar, but there is no evidence that this is effective.
Regardless of the causes of hiccups, could you pay attention to it?
Beyond the causes of the discomfort, you must pay attention to it if it lasts for a long time. Perhaps it is a sign of another pathological background picture.
Anyway, if it’s temporary, don’t worry. The usual reasons are varied and abound in everyday life, so there is not always gravity. You can try some of the traditional techniques to stop it or wait for it to happen.