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Hiccups: What Are They And How Do You Cure Them

Updated on April 13, 2011

So just what are hiccups? Hiccups happen when the muscle (diaphragm) separating the chest from the abdomen involuntarily contracts suddenly, pulling air into the lungs, followed by the vocal cords suddenly closing, shutting the air flow into the lungs off. The "hiccup" sound comes from the vocal cords closing.

Hiccups are more likely to affect men than women. Most hiccups don't last very long, usually going away on their own. If the hiccups persist for several days, or keep you from sleeping and eating, you will need to go see a doctor. This could be a sign of some underlying medical condition.


There are three types of hiccups:

Short term - do not last very long and usually go away on their own.

Persistent - last longer than 48 hours.

Intractible - last longer than a month.

If you have hiccups that have lasted for 48 hours or longer, you need to go see a doctor. There are medications a doctor can prescribe for persistent or intractible hiccups, but more important the doctor will run tests to see what underlying condition may be causing them.


They have associated eating too much or too quickly, drinking pop, drinking too much alcohol, sudden temperature changes in the stomach, emotional stress, smoking, and excitement as some triggers that may start short term hiccups. If you fill your stomach too full it gets larger and irritates the diahphragm, which can cause hiccups. If you eat or drink too fast you can swallow air, which helps fill the stomach.

Some causes of persistent or intractible hiccups can include liver disease, pnumonia and other lung problems, strokes, brain tumors, and renal failure can cause them. There are also some medications that have been known to cause them, some include nicotine, valium, xanax, and ativan.


There are many home remedies used to try to "cure" hiccups. Some of them include holding your breath and counting to ten. It is believed holding your breath increases the carbon dioxide in your blood which is thought to relax the diaphragm. Have someone scare you. This one may be hard to accomplish. It is hard to be scared when you are expecting it! Eat a teaspoonful of sugar (or honey). Drink a glass of water quickly. Pull hard on your tongue. Or my personal favorite: drink a glass of water upside down. (This has worked for me many times.) To do this drink from the opposite side of the glass you normally do while bending over.

For hiccups resulting from a medical condition you may be prescribed some medication such as thorazine. Other medicine a doctor may prescribe are some type of muscle relaxer, or a sedative. In severe cases and as a last resort the doctor may perform surgery on the nerve (phrenic nerve) that controls the diaphragm.


To prevent short term hiccups avoid over eating, avoid eating too fast, do not drink too much, and avoid smoking if it causes you to have hiccups.

To prevent persistent or intractible hiccups follow your doctors advice.


When To See A Doctor

For short term hiccups you do not need to go see the doctor. They are a minor annoyance, but should go away soon.

If you are having shortness of breath, feel like your throat is closing, vomiting up blood, running a fever, or having abdominal pain with the hiccups, you should go see your doctor. If they last more than a couple of days go see your doctor. Hiccups lasting more than a couple of days can disturb your sleep causing exhaustion and keep you from eating which can cause weight loss.


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    • shaymonu profile image

      shaymonu 6 years ago from Kansas

      You are welcome! I am glad you liked it!

    • divacratus profile image

      Kalpana Iyer 7 years ago from India

      Thanks for the info! :)