Understanding Hiccups - Health Tips - What Will Control Hiccups
Hiccups - the Education and Knowledge
The word hiccup is an onomatopoeia. It describes the sound we hear. Hiccups are a result of the diaphragm moving involuntarily, and the larynx contracting causing air to get trapped. Very often minor stomach disturbances are the cause of hiccups. Sometimes they are caused by mental or emotional reasons. Usually mild hiccups disappear without medical intervention. Most often they go away by themselves.
Hiccups are a protective action on the part of the body to try to get food and gas to exit the stomach. If gas in the stomach leans on the diaphragm or food that is too hot has irritated the prhenic nerve by the esophagus, the diaphragm get irritated and hiccups can result. Usually hiccups only last a couple of minutes. If you breathe in too much air at once, or swallow too quickly, or from alcohol or stress, hiccups can happen. All hiccups start in the diaphragm. Inhaling pulls the air into the lungs. Exhaling pushes air out of the lungs. If the diaphragm becomes irritated, you get hiccups. Fatty and spicy foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages can cause hiccups.
Hiccups Can Be a Sign of Some Things
There is really no way to prevent hiccups. Try to avoid eating or drinking too much or too quickly. Men tend to get hiccups more than women. People of all ages are afflicted with hiccups from babies to senior citizens. Everyone at some point has had hiccups.Liver disease, pneumonia and some lung disorders also can irritate the diaphragm. Abdominal surgery can irritate those nerves and also cause hiccups. Noxious fumes can trigger hiccups too.
Hiccups only have one symptom which is the sound we hear from the uncontrolled movement of the diaphragm.
When a spasm occurs it contracts the diaphragm which causes an intake of air to suddenly stop by the glottis - the vocal chords. When the vocal chords close, we get the hiccup sound. Hiccups can be caused when our stomach is full, drinking too much liquor, smoking, swallowing air, drinking a hot drink and then having something cold. Stress and excitement can also cause hiccups.
Hiccups can’t tell time. They can last a few minutes, or a few hours. If they last longer than 2 days, they are called persistent hiccups. Intractable hiccups last longer than 30 days. Intractable hiccups are a rare occurrence, but those who have suffered complain also of exhaustion, weight loss, and trouble sleeping. Sometimes hiccups can be a symptom of something more serious.
Long term hiccups can be caused by damage to the phrenic or vagus nerves. Both these nerves are related to the diaphragm muscle.
Sometimes this irritation can be caused by a sore throat, a hair touching your eardrum, a cyst, goiter, or tumor in your neck, gastro reflux.
Another cause of long term hiccups could be a central nervous system (CNS) disorder. Should you have an infection, a tumor or some trauma or damage to the CNS, it can interfere with the body’s normal ability to control the hiccup reflex. CNS disorder can be caused by a stroke, tumors, multiple sclerosis, encephalitis, meningitis, or brain injury.
See a Doctor if Hiccups Persist
When to See a Doctor
Sometimes drugs or metabolic disorders can disrupt the central nervous system. Even drugs like tranquilizers, barbiturates, and steroids, anesthesia, and alcohol can cause this. Some diseases like diabetes, an electrolyte imbalance, and kidney failure can alter the CNS.
Long term hiccups are more commonly seen in men than women.
People who get intubated (placing a tube down the throat to help the person breathe), or having an endoscopy can result in long term hiccups.
Hiccups, both long and short term can also be caused by stress and anxiety. The emotional component needs to be addressed too.
To rule out any underlying medical conditions as a cause of the hiccups, a doctor will take blood and check for any infection, signs of kidney disease or diabetes. They may order a CT scan, MRI or a chest x-ray. Very often hiccups go away by themselves. Should they find that it is caused by another condition, treating the condition will probably get rid of the hiccups.
If drugs are needed to treat the long term hiccups often an antipsychotic or anti nausea, or a muscle relaxant medication will be used. In some instances a person’s abdomen becomes extended. A doctor can insert a nasogastric tube through your nose and into the stomacah to stop the hiccups. Should the doctor need to be more aggressive, they will inject the person with anesthesia to numb the phrenic nerve.
Before You Go To the Doctor
Doctors can surgically implant a battery operated device to stimulate the vagus nerve to help control hiccups that won’t stop.
An endoscopy uses a small camera on a flexible tube that goes from the throat to the stomach to check for any abnormalities. Doctors who specialize in neurological and gastrointestinal disorders may have other suggestions.
People have seen some success from acupuncture and hypnosis.
Short term triggers can sometimes be caused by eating a big meal, sudden changes in temperature, or from drinking alcoholic or carbonated beverages.
Before you go to the doctor:
- Keep a specific and detailed description of your symptoms.
- Write down your medical history, and the history of your parents and siblings.
- Keep track of all the medications, vitamins and supplements you take.
- Note when the hiccups started, and how often they occur
- Try to notice when they are worse or better and associate that with what you may have just consumed, your environment, and emotional state
- Did you recently have an earache or sore throat?
Doctors will want this information and may perform a neurological examination. They will check your reflexes, muscle tone and muscle strength, coordination, sense of touch and sight, and your balance.
Hiccups and Evolution
If hiccups continue to go on for an extended period of time, it can interfere with sleeping, eating, speaking and healing.
If you have the hiccups and stomach pain, shortness of breath, fever, vomiting, coughing up blood, or the feeling that your throat is closing, call your doctor immediately.
There are many home remedies and anecdotal treatments for hiccups:
drink a glass of water quickly - helps stimulate the vagus nerve and nasopharynx
- pull hard on your tonge
- let someone scare you
- hold your breath - it is thought if you retain carbon dioxide the diaphragm will relax and stop the spasms.
- bite on a lemon
- drink from the far side of the glass
- gargle with water
- ½ tsp of sugar on the back of your tongue or under your tongue, 3x within 2 minutes (don’t use this for young children)
- use smelling salts
What Does the Brain Have to do With Hiccups
Hiccups Are Not Controlled by the Brain
Hiccups are not controlled by the brain, so it is not possible to think hiccups away. Hiccups are actually a vestige (leftover) from the evolutionary trail of amphibians. When fish and amphibians used their gills in water and primitive type of lungs to breathe on land, the glottis would close the path to the lungs in water and open it on land. When we hiccup we use these same muscles that close our glottis. Hiccups are hard to get rid of because it is controlled in the part of our brain that reacts unconciously. The best advice the next time you get the hiccups, might just be to accept them and trust they will most likely go away soon.
There are many home remedies and anecdotal treatments for hiccups:
Hiccups are not controlled by the brain, so it is not possible to think hiccups away. Hiccups are actually a vestige (leftover) from the evolutionary trail of amphibians. When fish and amphibians used their gills in water and primitive type of lungs to breathe on land, the glottis would close the path to the lungs in water and open it on land. When we hiccup we use these same muscles that close our glottis.
Hiccups are hard to get rid of because it is controlled in the part of our brain that reacts unconciously. The best advice the next time you get the hiccups, might just be to accept them and trust they will most likely go away soon.
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