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.
Consult Our Experts
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
- 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.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Metabolic disorders and drugs
Long-term hiccups can be triggered by:
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Kidney disease
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:
- 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.