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Hiccups Treatment Medicahospitals


Involuntary contractions of the diaphragm (muscle that separates chest and abdomen and plays an important role in breathing) are called Hiccups. Each contraction is followed by a There is a sudden closure of the vocal cords after each contraction, producing the typical “hic” sound.

A large meal, alcoholic or carbonated beverages, or sudden excitement may cause hiccups. It may also indicate an underlying medical condition. Hiccups usually last only a few minutes in most people. Rarely, it may persist for months, resulting in weight loss and exhaustion.

Hiccupping is a symptom. It may sometimes be accompanied by a slight tightening sensation in your chest, abdomen or throat.

Common triggers that cause hiccups lasting less than 48 hours include:

  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Over-eating
  • Excitement or emotional stress
  • Sudden temperature changes
  • Swallowing air while chewing gum or sucking on candy

Hiccups that last more than 48 hours may be caused by varied factors:
Nerve damage or irritation
Damage to or irritation of the vagus nerves or phrenic nerves, which serve the diaphragm muscle, could be due to the following reasons:

  • A hair or something in your ear that touches your eardrum
  • A tumour, cyst or goiter in your neck
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Sore throat or laryngitis

Central nervous system disorders: A tumour or infection in the central nervous system or damage to the central nervous system due to trauma may disrupt the body’s normal control of the hiccup reflex.
Examples include:

  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Tumours
  • Metabolic disorders and drugs

Long-term hiccups can be triggered by:

  • Alcoholism
  • Anaesthesia
  • Barbiturates
  • Diabetes
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Kidney disease
  • Steroids
  • Tranquilizers

Risk factors
Men are more prone to develop long-term hiccups than women. Other factors that can increase the risk of hiccups include:

Mental or emotional issues: Short-term and long-term hiccups can be triggered by anxiety, stress and excitement.
Surgery: Some people develop hiccups after administration of general anaesthesia during surgery, or after procedures involving abdominal organs.
Prolonged hiccups may interfere with:

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Speech
  • Wound healing after surgery

When to see a doctor
See your doctor if your hiccups last more than 48 hours or if they are so severe that they interfere with eating, sleeping or breathing.

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