Hiccups are a common and usually harmless condition that occurs when the diaphragm spasms involuntarily. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. When it spasms, it closes the vocal cords, which produces the hiccup sound.
There are many different theories about why hiccups happen, but the exact cause is unknown. Some possible causes include:
- Eating or drinking too quickly: Eating or drinking too quickly can trap air in the stomach, which can irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups.
- Sudden changes in temperature: Sudden changes in temperature, such as going from a cold room to a hot room, can also irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups.
- Stress or excitement: Stress or excitement can also trigger hiccups.
- Smoking or chewing gum: Smoking or chewing gum can also cause hiccups by trapping air in the stomach.
- Medical conditions: In rare cases, hiccups can be a symptom of a medical condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastroparesis, or a tumor in the chest or abdomen.
Hiccups usually go away on their own within a few minutes. However, there are a few things you can try to get rid of hiccups more quickly:
- Hold your breath: Holding your breath for 10-20 seconds can help to reset the diaphragm and stop the spasms.
- Drink a glass of water: Drinking a glass of water quickly can help to relax the diaphragm and stop the spasms.
- Pull on your tongue: Pulling on your tongue gently can help to stimulate the vagus nerve, which can help to stop the spasms.
- Gargle with water: Gargling with water can help to relax the diaphragm and stop the spasms.
- Eat a spoonful of sugar or honey: Eating a spoonful of sugar or honey can help to coat the back of the throat and stop the spasms.
If you have hiccups that last for more than 48 hours or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty swallowing, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.