Almost everyone has experienced having hiccups at least once in their lifetime. The frequency of having hiccups becomes rarer as you age and men are more likely to have hiccups than women. It has been discovered that hiccups start when you are a baby and they occur to allow air that is trapped in the stomach while suckling to escape and allow more milk to be ingested.
Some of the common causes of hiccups are eating too fast or too much; drinking too much alcohol; smoking; laughing; sudden temperature change in your stomach (drinking something hot and then immediately drinking something cold). Carbonated beverages including beer can also initiate hiccups. There are also medical reasons that can cause you to have hiccups: certain medications (opiates and benzodiazepines); having a metabolic disease; diabetes; kidney failure; an electrolyte imbalance; or deviated septum.
Hiccups Can Diagnose Serious Illness
The medical term for Hiccups is synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. The muscle located between the chest and abdomen is essential to breathing. When you have the hiccups, they will make this muscle contract involuntarily. When contracting it will affect your vocal cords and you will hear the “hic” sound. Therefore the name of Hiccups became the layman’s terminology.
People seem to look upon hiccups as more of an annoyance than a symptom of a more serious condition. There are different and more menacing causes that a doctor should consider. If your episode of having hiccups lasts for an extended time-more than 48 hours they are called persistent hiccups. If they last at least a month or more they are called intractable hiccups. These types have more severe diagnosed causes such as tumors; cancer; stroke, infections or injuries and a doctor should be consulted.
If you have damage or irritation to the nerves that travel from the brain to the diaphragm this can be a possible cause of long-term hiccups. These nerves can be irritated from a hair or some other object in your ear that is touching your eardrum. Damage can occur from a sore throat, laryngitis, acid reflux or a cyst, goiter or tumor in your neck.
Home Remedies for Common Hiccups
There are many simple home remedies for hiccups.
- Drink a full glass of water-this will quiet the nerves that are irritating the muscle. Gargling will also help.
- Hold your breath-pinch your nose and close your mouth. Hold your breath for as long as you can.
- Breathe into a paper bag-this works as well as holding your breath. They both increase the amount of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream.
- Place a teaspoon of sugar or honey on the back of your tongue-the back of the tongue is where “sour” is tasted. By placing the sugar there you will get an overload of sweetness that will help to stop the hiccups.
The usual length of having common hiccups is only a few minutes or a few hours. If they don’t disappear within that time, try some of the above remedies. If you still have hiccups after 48 hours it might be a good time to contact your doctor’s office and get their assessment of the situation.