Hiccups: The bizarre sounds escaping your mouth without warning

  • October 3, 2020
Hiccups: The bizarre sounds escaping your mouth without warning

Imagine you are in the middle of a job interview or a much-awaited date, and you start hiccupping. Ah, once, it would be funny, twice maybe hilarious, and anything more than that is usually just annoying.

Hiccups are incessant, uncontrollable contractions of the diaphragm-the muscle that parts the chest from the abdomen and plays a vital role in breathing. When the diaphragm contracts, the lungs take in oxygen. When the diaphragm relaxes, the lungs release the carbon dioxide. Each diaphragm contraction is trailed by a sudden closure of vocal cords, producing the rhythm called hiccups (1)

Reasons of hiccups

There are many reasons that lead to hiccups, some of them are physical, and some are emotional (1,2). Few such reasons include:

  • Eating in large quantity or too quickly
  • Consuming carbonated beverages or too much alcohol
  • Feeling nervous or excited
  • A high level of stress
  • An underlying medical condition
  • A sudden change in temperature

For most people, a stretch of hiccups usually lasts a few minutes. Rarely, hiccups persist for longer duration but if it does, it may be because of:

  • Damage or exacerbation to the nerves connected to the diaphragm
  • Disorders related to the Central nervous systems like Encephalitis or Meningitis
  • Metabolic disorders like diabetes or kidney failure. 
  • Strokes or brain tumors that encompass the brain stem and some chronic medical disorders (like Renal failure) in a few cases also testified to cause hiccups.

The research revealed that in addition to the above reasons, the consumption of drugs like steroids or some sedatives can also trigger long-term hiccups. And sometimes certain procedures, requiring general anesthesia, can also lead to hiccups (2,3)

So, if your hiccupping is interfering with your normal eating, sleeping, breathing, etc. or if it lasts for more than 2 days, you should talk to your doctor immediately

To know more about hiccups, stay tuned to our next blog…

Written by Dr. Shikha Sharma, Reviewed by Dr. Harshi Dhingra