Hiccups! We’ve all experienced them. Whether during a meal, a meeting, or those quiet moments before sleep, these sudden involuntary contractions can be amusing, annoying, or even embarrassing. But what exactly are hiccups, and why do they occur? Let’s delve into the fascinating world of hiccups and debunk some common misconceptions along the way.
What are Hiccups?
Hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen and plays a vital role in breathing. Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of your vocal cords, which produces the characteristic “hic” sound.
Why Do We Get Hiccups?
The precise cause of hiccups remains a bit of a medical mystery, but several triggers are commonly recognized:
1. Stimulation or Irritation of the Phrenic Nerves or Diaphragm: Overeating, consuming carbonated beverages, or swallowing air can lead to hiccups.
2. Temperature Change: Consuming hot food followed by a cold drink can sometimes induce hiccups.
3. Excitement or Stress: Some people may get hiccups due to sudden excitement, stress, or anxiety.
4. Certain Medications: Steroids, anesthesia, or drugs that promote acid reflux can sometimes cause hiccups.
In most cases, hiccups are harmless and eventually go away. HiccAway can help get rid of them quickly, which is helpful if they are painful, uncomfortable, or if they cause vomiting.
Prolonged hiccups that last more than 48 hours could indicate an underlying health condition and warrant a visit to a doctor.
Common Misconceptions About Hiccups
1. “Hiccups are Caused by a Lack of Oxygen”: This is not strictly true. While taking a deep breath might sometimes help in stopping hiccups, they aren’t caused by a lack of oxygen.
2. “Holding Your Breath Stops Hiccups”: The idea behind this is that holding your breath increases the carbon dioxide level in your blood, which might help in stopping hiccups. However, this method doesn’t work for many people.
3. “Hiccups Only Happen After Eating”: While eating too quickly or consuming certain foods can be a trigger, hiccups can occur in various situations, including moments of stress or excitement.
4. “All Hiccup Remedies Work”: From swallowing a teaspoon of sugar to getting scared, numerous hiccup remedies are passed down through generations. However, what works for one person might not work for another, and there’s limited scientific evidence backing the efficacy of many of these home remedies. HiccAway was clinically proven to be 92% effective; much greater than the home remedies we grew up with.
5. “Hiccups are Always Harmless”: While this is mostly true, prolonged hiccups can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stroke, or even a brain injury.
Hiccups are a common, usually harmless bodily function that everyone experiences from time to time. While they can be a source of amusement or a minor inconvenience, understanding their cause and dispelling misconceptions can help us approach them with better knowledge and maybe a touch less annoyance. And of course, HiccAway is here to help.
If you ever find yourself with a case of persistent hiccups lasting longer than 48 hours, remember to consult a medical professional.
Are you tired of the endless search for the perfect gift that will truly delight and surprise your spouse? Look no further! In a world filled with ordinary presents, the HiccAway Straw emerges as a unique and unexpected gem that promises not only novelty but genuine usefulness. Gone are the days of pondering gift options; the HiccAway Straw is here to transform your gift-giving game.
Get ready to unravel the secrets behind this innovative solution that promises to turn ordinary hiccups into extraordinary moments of relief and shared laughter. Here are five compelling reasons, as told by our customers, why the HiccAway Straw stands as an exceptional and thoughtful gift choice, bound to leave your spouse in awe and appreciation.
No more wild animal noises in your home
Your spouse won’t have to sleep in a separate room
For your own sanity!
Your spouse will get the relief they deserve
The hiccups will no longer consume hours or days of your spouse’s life
In a world where meaningful and practical gifts often hold the greatest value, the HiccAway Straw shines as a beacon of thoughtfulness and care. As you embark on the journey of surprising your spouse with a gift that transcends the ordinary, remember that the HiccAway Straw isn’t just a simple tool—it’s a doorway to shared moments of relief, laughter, and connection. By choosing the HiccAway Straw, you’re not only gifting a solution to a common annoyance, but you’re also presenting an opportunity for your spouse to experience the joy of finding relief in the most unexpected places. So, whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or just a gesture of love, let the HiccAway Straw be your chosen conduit to creating treasured memories that echo with laughter and gratitude for years to come. Give the gift that keeps on giving—the gift of uninterrupted moments and a happier, hiccup-free life.
Hiccups are those unexpected and often inconvenient contractions of the diaphragm that can catch us off guard. While usually harmless, they can be a source of annoyance and discomfort. Thankfully, the HiccAway straw is designed to get rid of hiccups quickly and easily! But if you get the hiccups pretty frequently, it might be a sign that you need to make some lifestyle changes. Try adopting the following habits to help prevent hiccups from disrupting your day:
1. Eat Mindfully and Slowly
One of the common triggers for hiccups is overeating or eating too quickly. When you consume large amounts of food or eat in a hurried manner, your stomach can become distended, putting pressure on your diaphragm. To prevent hiccups, practice mindful eating. Take your time to savor each bite, chew thoroughly, and give your body a chance to signal when it’s full.
2. Avoid Carbonated Beverages
Carbonated drinks, such as soda, sparkling water, and even beer, can introduce excess air into your digestive system. This can lead to hiccups as your body tries to expel the trapped air. If you’re prone to hiccups, consider cutting back on carbonated beverages and opt for non-fizzy alternatives.
3. Manage Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can disrupt the normal functioning of your diaphragm and contribute to hiccups. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or regular physical activity. By managing stress, you can potentially reduce the frequency of hiccups.
4. Maintain Proper Posture
Believe it or not, your posture can play a role in preventing hiccups. Slouching or hunching over while eating can compress your stomach and diaphragm, making you more susceptible to hiccups. Sit up straight and avoid slumping during meals to help maintain proper diaphragmatic function.
5. Moderate Spicy and Acidic Foods
Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the lining of your stomach, potentially triggering hiccups. While these foods don’t cause hiccups in everyone, if you notice a correlation between consuming spicy or acidic meals and getting hiccups, consider moderating your intake.
6. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can lead to muscle spasms, including those of the diaphragm. Make sure you’re staying adequately hydrated throughout the day. Drinking water and staying properly hydrated can help prevent hiccups.
7. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can affect the nerves that control the diaphragm, leading to hiccups. If you’re prone to hiccups, try limiting your alcohol intake or pacing yourself while drinking.
Hiccups, while usually harmless, can be a nuisance. Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to prevent them from disrupting your routine. From mindful eating and avoiding carbonated drinks to managing stress and maintaining good posture, these simple adjustments can go a long way in minimizing the occurrence of hiccups. Experiment with these lifestyle changes and observe how they impact your hiccup frequency.
Remember, while occasional hiccups are a normal part of life, persistent or chronic hiccups accompanied by other symptoms may warrant a visit to a healthcare professional. By taking control of your habits and making informed choices, you can enjoy meals and moments without the hiccup interruption.
Hiccups are a common and often harmless occurrence that almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives. But have you ever wondered if hiccups could be more than just a passing annoyance? Could they possibly be a sign of something more serious? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of hiccups and explore whether they can serve as a potential indicator of underlying health issues.
Before we dive into the potential connection between hiccups and serious health conditions, let’s first understand what causes hiccups. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily, causing a sudden intake of air that results in the characteristic “hic” sound. Common triggers for hiccups include overeating, consuming carbonated beverages, eating too quickly, sudden changes in temperature, excitement, and stress.
The Occasional Hiccup
In most cases, hiccups are harmless and self-limiting. They usually go away on their own within a short period of time, but if you’re looking for immediate relief, try the HiccAway straw. Occasional hiccups are a normal physiological response and are not usually indicative of a serious health problem.
Hiccups and Underlying Health Conditions
While hiccups are typically benign, there are instances where they could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Persistent or chronic hiccups—those that last for more than 48 hours—may warrant further investigation. Here are some potential connections between hiccups and serious health conditions:
1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Chronic acid reflux can irritate the diaphragm and trigger hiccups. If you experience frequent hiccups along with heartburn or regurgitation, it might be worth discussing GERD with a healthcare professional.
2. Central Nervous System Disorders: In some cases, hiccups can be linked to neurological conditions that affect the central nervous system, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, or brain injury. If hiccups are accompanied by other neurological symptoms, seeking medical attention is advisable.
3. Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as pancreatitis, gastritis, or inflammatory bowel disease, can sometimes lead to persistent hiccups.
4. Respiratory Issues: Lung infections, pneumonia, and other respiratory disorders may irritate the diaphragm and trigger hiccups.
5. Medications: Some medications, particularly those that affect the nervous system or gastrointestinal tract, can lead to hiccups as a side effect.
When to Seek Medical Help
While occasional hiccups are nothing to worry about, persistent hiccups that last for more than a couple of days should prompt a visit to a healthcare professional. Additionally, if hiccups are accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, shortness of breath, or neurological changes, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.
In the vast majority of cases, hiccups are harmless and fleeting. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential connection between hiccups and underlying health conditions, especially when they become chronic or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms. While hiccups alone are not typically cause for alarm, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult a medical professional if you have any doubts or concerns. Your health and well-being are always worth prioritizing.
Hiccups, those sudden and involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, are not only annoying but can also be quite embarrassing, especially when they strike at the most inconvenient times.
In this blog post, we’ll explore seven surprising ways that might put an end to your hiccups and get you back to normalcy.
The Peanut Butter Trick
You might have heard of sipping water or holding your breath to stop hiccups, but have you ever considered eating a spoonful of peanut butter? The thick consistency and swallowing action required can help stimulate the vagus nerve, which plays a role in controlling hiccups. So, the next time you’re caught off guard by hiccups, reach for that jar of peanut butter and enjoy a spoonful.
The Sugar Cube Cure Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. Placing a sugar cube on your tongue and letting it dissolve slowly can help trigger a nerve response that interrupts the hiccup reflex. This little-known trick can offer relief, making it a sweet remedy for an irritating problem.
The Startling Start Have you ever noticed that hiccups tend to disappear after a sudden scare? This is because the body’s “fight or flight” response, triggered by fear or surprise, can override the hiccup reflex. While we’re not suggesting you scare yourself silly, a sudden loud noise or a surprise tap on the shoulder might just do the trick.
The Paper Towel Technique Believe it or not, a simple paper towel could be your hiccup-fighting ally. Place a single layer of paper towel over the top of a glass, securing it with a rubber band or tape. Then, drink water through the paper towel. This unusual drinking method can alter your swallowing pattern, potentially interrupting the hiccup cycle.
The Humble Pencil Approach Sipping water upside down is a classic hiccup remedy, but it’s not always the most practical option. Instead, try placing a pencil or pen horizontally between your teeth and gently bite down. This forces your mouth open and can lead to an unusual swallowing pattern that might just put an end to those pesky hiccups.
The Digital Distraction In our digital age, we rarely leave our smartphones behind. Put your device to good use by engaging in a stimulating and distracting activity. Play a quick game, solve a puzzle, or watch a short video. The key is to divert your attention away from the hiccups, which might just help them disappear.
The Ultimate Breath Hold While holding your breath is a common hiccup remedy, this technique takes it a step further. Take a deep breath and then exhale as much air as you can. Next, take another deep breath and hold it for as long as you comfortably can. This prolonged breath hold can reset your diaphragm and potentially stop the hiccup cycle.
These seven surprising methods offer a new perspective on hiccup relief, proving that sometimes the most unexpected approaches can yield results. Whether it’s peanut butter, a sugar cube, or a digital distraction, these techniques could be your ticket to finally putting an end to those stubborn hiccups.
However, as fun as these approaches are, they yield inconsistent results. If you’re looking for a more guaranteed solution, created by a doctor and backed by science, try the HiccAway! This hiccup straw device is simple to use – just stick the straw in a cup of water and forcibly sip for 3 seconds before swallowing. The HiccAway has a 92% efficacy rate and plenty of satisfied, hiccup-free customers. Try it for yourself today. Your diaphragm will thank you!
We’ve all experienced those pesky hiccups at some point in our lives. These sudden, involuntary diaphragm contractions can be exceptionally bothersome and embarrassing, especially when they strike at inconvenient times. Hiccups can be caused by various factors, such as eating too quickly, drinking carbonated beverages, or even excitement. While they are usually harmless and subside independently, finding quick remedies for instant relief is always a welcome solution.
Below, you’ll find some effective “Hiccup Hacks” that can help you eliminate those hiccups in no time.
Use the HiccAway
The HiccAway is proven to provide consistent, reliable relief from hiccups. All you have to do is sip water through the HiccAway straw. “The device generates enough pressure to activate the Phrenic & Vagus nerves, which reset the brain and stop your hiccups instantly!” explains HiccAway inventory, Dr. Seifi. Don’t have the HiccAway yet? Try one of the other hacks below while you wait for Amazon to drop one on your doorstep.
Hold Your Breath
Holding your breath is a classic hiccup remedy that has been passed down through generations, and for a good reason – it can work! Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. This action increases the amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream, which may help reset the diaphragm and stop the hiccups.
Swallow a Teaspoon of Sugar
For a sweet hiccup remedy, try swallowing a teaspoon of granulated sugar. The grainy texture can stimulate your throat and esophagus, which may help halt the hiccup reflex.
Drink a Glass of Water Upside Down
This sounds unusual, but another popular hiccup remedy is drinking a glass of water upside down. Bend at your waist, lower your head toward the ground, and drink water from the far side of the glass (the side opposite to your face). This technique can trigger a surprise response from the diaphragm, potentially ending your hiccups.
Gargle with Ice Water
Gargling with ice-cold water can provide a double benefit in stopping hiccups. Firstly, the shock of cold water on the back of your throat may disrupt the hiccup reflex. Secondly, the vagus nerve is connected to the throat, and the stimulation from gargling may help regulate its activity.
Use a Paper Bag
This hiccup remedy involves breathing into a paper bag for a short period. By inhaling and exhaling into the bag, you slightly increase the carbon dioxide concentration in your bloodstream, which can aid in interrupting the hiccup cycle.
Apply Gentle Pressure on Your Diaphragm
Applying gentle pressure on your diaphragm may be a helpful hiccup hack. Locate your diaphragm (just below your ribcage) and apply light pressure with your fingers. This action can relax the spasming muscles and bring relief from hiccups.
Hiccups may be a temporary annoyance, but trying to get rid of them can lead to frustration. Fortunately, these hiccup hacks offer quick and easy remedies to help you find instant relief. While hiccups usually resolve independently, these techniques are safe to try and may provide the much-needed reprieve from those involuntary contractions.
Remember, if hiccups persist for an extended period or occur frequently, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional, as they may be a symptom of an underlying condition. Happy hiccup-hacking!
Dr. Ali Seifi, a renowned neuro intensivist physician at the University of Texas, had always been fascinated by the human body’s quirks and oddities. When “Dorothy Wiede,” 94 years old from San Antonio, Texas, who claimed to have a foolproof technique for curing hiccups, reached out, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to investigate. Moreover, she was fascinated by hearing about HiccAway on the news and asked Dr. Seifi to explain it to her.
He reached out to Dorothy and arranged a meeting to learn more about her technique. As he arrived at her beautiful modest house, he was struck by how unassuming it looked. Nevertheless, he was determined to keep an open mind.
Dorthy, who is a retired nurse and a Texas local, now lives with her daughter Sylvia in a beautiful neighborhood, greeted Dr. Seifi warmly and invited him inside. Dorthy shared with Dr. Seifi her struggles explaining, to her colleagues, the importance of studying hiccups and how to help stop them. For over 50 years, Dorthy felt ignored and put out by the doctors she spoke with.
Finally, a doctor who will listen and takes the topic of hiccups seriously is here with a solution similar to hers. She was so grateful that, finally, HiccAway as a scientific solution is available to people who are annoyed by hiccups.
She explained that her technique involved holding up the chin and tilting the head back. She had been using this approach for years to help friends and family members eliminate their hiccups.
Dorthy’s fascination with hiccups and her innovative method aligned with Dr. Seifi and he was pleasantly surprised by such a remarkable woman.
Hiccups have ailed humans and mammals since the beginning of time, an annoying thing that happens with little reason and no real solution However, there are times that hiccups are no longer just annoying but heavily interfere with eating, sleeping and the quality of life overall.
Since 2017 “How to get rid of hiccups” has been one of the top 5 most asked health related questions on google. More and more people are suffering from hiccups, and some even hospitalized. Yes, hospitalized from the hiccups.
A study recently completed in 2022, led by Ali Seifi MD, associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UT Health San Antonio, and Mark R. Fox MD. of University Hospital Zürich and Klinik Arlesheim, found a stagering 23,615 patients a year may have been admitted to hospitals in the US for severe hiccups from 2005 – 2018. During this 14 year study period, Nationwide Inpatient Sample( NIS) database of the United States healthcare recorded 330,620 patients admitted from the emergency rooms that had hiccups as one of their discharge diagnoses.
Cases of hiccups may not always have been recorded; however, the number of patients admitted included in the study was large enough not to suspect any systematic bias. These results depend on the accuracy and completeness of the information entered into the NIS database.
The research also shows a large percentage of patients were men in their late 50s. Some of these patients could see $70,000 in medical expenses from being admitted to the hospital for their hiccups.
Most of these hospital admissions have been associated with Gastrointestinal Disease, Acid Reflux Disease, and Chemotherapy for cancer. Patients with Gastrointestinal Disease are 3 times as likely to get hiccups, and patients with Neurological disorders are 2 times more likely to have a hiccup attack.
The information provided in this study will help clinicians to develop pertinent differential diagnoses for patients presenting persistent or recurrent hiccups. We are just now learning how common hiccups can be, and some of the underlying causes of hiccups that may have you visiting the hospital for treatment.
The hiccups can range from annoying to even somewhat alarming. While it’s unlikely that your hiccups are connected to a serious health issue, it can be rather aggravating if you keep struggling with them; after all, an individual can at times, hiccup up to 60 times per minute. That amount of hiccups will have you looking for a hiccups cures in no time. But the problem is that many of the cures you find are most likely old wives’ tales. This means that they may be widely circulated, but aren’t actually very effective. Though there are sometimes a bit of truth to old wives’ tales, it’s important to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing as you try to cure your hiccups, so you can prevent wasting time.
What Are The Hiccups, Actually?
To discount some of these old wives’ tales, let’s understand exactly what the hiccups really are. It’s essentially a spasm of your diaphragm, which is caused by the phrenic nerve. You have to raise the carbon dioxide level in your blood in order to stop these spasms, which is done by stopping your intake of oxygen. This means that the best cures for the hiccups include ones such as breathing into a paper bag or holding your breath for an extended period of time.
You may have tried these cures without any success, and it could be that you just weren’t waiting long enough for the fix to work. Typically, you’ll need to hold your breath for at least 30 seconds in order to stop your hiccups from recurring but again there is no exact science for this to accurately work each time.
What Kinds of Old Wives’ Tales Supposedly Treat the Hiccups?
There are a variety of other old wives’ tales that allegedly treat the hiccups, some of which are more effective than others and some of which are just plain ineffective and way more complicated than holding your breath. Some of the more effective cures are consuming peppermint to relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and eating a spoonful of peanut butter changes your breathing and swallowing pattern because it takes the body longer to digest.
Startling someone, as the old wives’ tales often instruct, will probably not help their hiccups but it can be fun to do! However drinking water while holding your nose can be more effective but again may not work every time. While all these old wives’ tales can be fun to try, they can be frustrating if you’re in need of a solution and don’t see effective results. Because there is no exact science to the cures, they are inconsistent in their results. A more guaranteed solution, that has been tested and proven to work every time is the HiccAway device. The pressure from the suction has been accurately measured to provide enough pressure to stop these spasms every time, providing consistent reliable relief.
It is safe to say that everyone has experienced hiccups at one point or another in their life. They are caused by spasms in the diaphragm and, while uncomfortable, they are very rarely life-threatening. Most of us simply want to find a way to stop hiccups when they happen, but some myths, including those below, make this a bit difficult.
They Are Caused By Someone Speaking Negatively About You
This first myth has many different variations around the world, but it often boils down to hiccups occurring when you are the topic of a negative discussion. This is simply not true. If that were the case, there would be a lot more instances of hiccups, and there are people who would never stop having them as well. This myth may have been started to keep people from taking part in negative gossip or soothe one afflicted with hiccups, but whatever the case, it is not true.
You can Stop Hiccups by Being Scared or Holding Your Breath
This is another group of myths involving hiccups and their solution. None of these common home solutions work for hiccups, from holding your breath and having someone scare you to drinking water and placing a finger on your forehead. Over time, these solutions were all found not to help, only seeming to work when the hiccups eventually stop on their own by the time you are working on a solution.
You Get Hiccups When Someone Thinks of You
Like the first myth, this one goes that whenever you are on someone’s mind, you will get a case of hiccups. Some people believe to stop hiccups, you must call out the name of the person thinking about you, and they will vanish. Like the other myths, this one also lacks a way of proving it, and by the time you have called out a few people’s names, your hiccups will have reached the end of their cycle anyway.
Some People Never Get Hiccups
While it may be tempting to think that hiccups are a kind of condition and some people are immune or don’t suffer from it, this is also not true. As mentioned, hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm caused by a physical agent, including drinking alcohol or eating spicy foods, to name a few. Everyone has had hiccups at some point in time – even fetuses in the womb have been recorded getting hiccups.
Each Time You Hiccup, Your Heart Skips a Beat
An irregular heartbeat is very dangerous, and while there are several possible causes, hiccups are not one of them. Your heartbeat and hiccups share no relation at all. Some studies have shown a minor fluctuation in heartbeat rhythm when people hiccup, but this disturbance is extremely negligible and comes nowhere close to stopping your heart.
You Can Stop Hiccups by Tickling The Roof
This is another solution that most well-meaning people swear by. They say that by tickling the roof of your mouth using something like a q-tip, you will stop hiccups. Some scientists have concluded that this trick may distract the mind from focusing on the hiccups, which often seems to worsen them. The tickling sensation may override the irritation that caused the hiccups initially, but all of this is just speculation. Similar activities involve dissolving a spoonful of sugar on your tongue and sticking your fingers in your ears.
While there seems to be a hiccup myth and solution for every culture worldwide, most of them have been disproved. It has also been difficult to study hiccups effectively because they occur randomly, often disappearing as fast as they began.
They are, however, very uncomfortable to experience for most people, and it is for this reason that people are always looking for a way to stop hiccups effectively. The good news is that now, you can stop them the next time they start using our solution. Check it out, and you can give your friends and family some relief the next time they experience hiccups.
We are introducing the “Forced Inspiratory Suction and Swallow Tool ” ( FISST) as a way with high success in terminating hiccups. In summary, to stop hiccups, you need to forcefully suction the water through a straw that requires a high amount of negative pressure. This high negative pressure can be induced by a valve or a resistance within the straw. This forceful suction requires maximum contraction of the diaphragm muscle by activating the phrenic nerve, which is coming from high cervical vertebrae C3 to C5. After the suction, you should immediately swallow the water. Swallowing requires a complex function of several muscles in the pharynx and larynx, specifically the closure of the epiglottis, to avoid the entrance of water into the trachea. The epiglottis closure is through the vagus nerve activation, which is part of the hiccups cycle.
In summary, FISST simultaneously activates the two main nerves which are responsible for hiccups. And this concurrency stops the vicious cycle between these two nerves. Although most of the physical maneuvers of other remedies stimulate one of these two nerves and muscles, FISST accomplishes both in unison. Prior efforts have attempted either phrenic or vagal nerve stimulation with varying levels of success. FISST has gained more than 90% success in stopping hiccups based on several hundred consumer results, and we hope this new invention brings hope and relieve , especially for patients with chronic hiccups such as cancer patients.
Many of us, if not all have experienced hiccups at some point in our lives. Even mammals and amphibians have hiccups. But have you thought of what exactly causes hiccups?
A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary spasm of the diaphragm muscle between regular breaths. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle under your ribcage. The diaphragm is being innervated by the phrenic nerve, which comes all the way from our neck to the lower part of the chest. Anything that irritates the phrenic nerve can then stimulate the diaphragm and cause hiccups. Normally, the diaphragm muscle helps pull air into the lungs by pulling downwards as you breathe in, acting as a piston that suctions the air into the lungs. When you breathe out, the diaphragm pushes upwards, again like a piston. When the diaphragm spasms, the lungs suck in air quickly, and the glottis (the vocal cords inside our voice box) closes abruptly. This action stops more air from getting into the lungs and produces the “hiccup” sound we are familiar with, which occurs as the glottis shuts due to the air pressure differential.
Two Types of Hiccups:
Typically, hiccups are not pathologic, and they stop on their own, but sometimes hiccups are a symptom of another disease.
Generally speaking, we can divide the causes of hiccups into two major groups: Non-Pathological and Pathological etiologies – most hiccups that we see and are accustomed to are non-pathological in nature.
Non-Pathological causes of hiccups:
Many of the non-pathological reasons for the hiccups are associated with eating and drinking, which in some circumstances can trigger the phrenic nerve. When we eat quickly, air can enter into the stomach with the food, and this can cause distention in the stomach, which in turn places mechanical pressure on the phrenic nerve, ultimately causing hiccups.
We see this occur in nature in the same way, often with animals, such as dogs, that eat quickly. Another way that air can enter the stomach occurs when we chew gum or smoke – both conditions can cause distention of the stomach and additional pressure on the phrenic nerve. Eating spicy foods can also trigger hiccups, and in this scenario, the acidity of the spice chemically triggers the phrenic nerve, which is located close to the stomach.
Another cause of non-pathologic hiccups involves carbonated and alcoholic beverages; both of these chemically irritate the phrenic nerve, near the stomach, and that triggers hiccups.
Pathological causes of hiccups:
Pathological hiccups are less common but can be much more serious, and should be investigated by a patient’s physician. Here are is a breakdown of those causes.
A – Neurological causes:
In this category, most of the etiologies are due to a pathology inside the brain, where the central nervous system nucleuses for phrenic and vagus nerves are located. One of the most common causes of hiccups in this group is a result of strokes – especially when the stroke has happened at the medulla. The medulla is a part of the brain stem that connects the spinal cord to the brain. Other pathological masses that press the medulla also can manifest as hiccups such as brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformation, and demyelinating diseases.
B – Gastrointestinal causes:
Another pathological etiology for hiccups occurs when the lower part of the esophagus (food pipe), nearest to the stomach, becomes irritated. In this category, the most common causes include acid reflux, peptic ulcers, and gastritis; some less common causes include esophageal or stomach cancer. But, in these cases, patients usually experience other symptoms – it’s rare that hiccups are the only manifestation.
At times the hiccups can occur after surgery and this can be multifactorial – mainly due to the location of surgery on the abdomen, the intubation for anesthesia, and other forms of anesthetics used during surgery.
C – Infections and Inflammations:
Other causes of pathological hiccups are inflammations in the throat and chest such as pharyngitis (sore throat), pneumonia (lung infection), bronchitis ( infection of the airways), pericarditis( heart membrane inflammation), and sometimes heart attacks.
D – Medication-induced Hiccups:
Aside from other pathological conditions, sometimes hiccups can be a side effect of a medication. For example, some cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy develop hiccups as a side effect of the chemotherapy medications. Certain anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy) such as: levofolinate, fluorouracil, oxaliplatin, carboplatin, is and irinotecan are associated more with hiccups.
Dexamethasone in some cases cause hiccups as well. This drug
is used for various indications including brain edema and reducing
chemotherapy-induced side effects. Discontinuation of dexamethasone or
switching from dexamethasone to other corticosteroids have been reported to
The last class of medications that can cause hiccups are sedatives and pain killers. Medications such as diazepam, midazolam, barbiturates, and tramadol are included in this category.
E – Electrolyte and metabolic causes:
Kidney and liver malfunction can cause an accumulation of some toxins and imbalance of several electrolytes in the body. A known toxic metabolite of the body is urea, which will remain in the body when there’s kidney failure. This high urea, named uremia, can manifest as hiccups. Other electrolytes and gasses in the blood play an important role in the body’s metabolism and an imbalance of these substances can cause hiccups. Electrolytes and gas conditions such as hypokalemia (low potassium), hyponatremia (low sodium), hypocalcemia (low calcium), and hypocapnia (low carbon dioxide).
F – Psychogenic Hiccups:
Anxiety, stress, excitement, and malingering can be other triggers for the hiccups. However, psychogenic causes of hiccups should be considered only after a thorough evaluation has been completed looking for other medical causes. One way that we, as physicians, can differentiate the psychogenic hiccups from true hiccups is that they persist during sleep, but the psychogenic hiccups will only occur when awake.
Here’s a summary of possible causes:
Central nervous system causes:
Strokes – especially at the medulla of the brain
Irritation of Vagus or Phrenic nerves with impact on the Gastrointestinal system:
Swallowing air while chewing gum
Eating spicy foods
Drinking carbonated beverages
Sudden changes in ambient or gastrointestinal temperature
Certain anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy), including: