A hiccup is medically termed an SDF (Synchronous Diagrammatic Flutter). It is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and the respiratory organs with a sudden closure of the glottis and the characteristic gulping sound (when the muscle spasms and the vocal cord snaps). Often, the hiccup is rhythmic. Usually, a hiccup is just a temporary and minor annoyance.
Almost everyone, young or old and male or female, experiences hiccups at one time or another. Mostly, hiccups come and go away on their own within a minute and without any medication. Hiccups can interfere with daily activities (eating/ drinking/ talking).
The causes determine the type of disease, risk factors, signs, symptoms, and diagnostic tests, which significantly affect the treatment procedure. Depending on the severity and the length of time, hiccups can be classified under 2 heads:
Mild hiccups come and go away without any medication and within a short period. They usually occur when
Such types of hiccups are linked to severe medical conditions. They can be stressful and will not go away unless the related conditions (causing the hiccups) are removed. Some medical conditions include:
Intractable hiccups are uncommon but inevitable sequels to the aftermath of ischemic stroke (It occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. The brain depends on its arteries to bring fresh blood from the heart and the lungs). Intractable hiccups can have a significant impact on post-stroke rehabilitation and can have a detrimental impact on the patient’s quality of life. Clinical research is suggested within intractable hiccups so that more can be learned about the disabling cause of the sufferer.
Everyone in his life experiences hiccups (which come and go away, usually without medication). But when hiccups are cancer symptoms or side effects of cancer treatments, they can persist for an extended period. This makes the patient challenging to cope with. In the case of cancer treatment, the hiccups may be experienced if:
Symptoms are subjective phenomena observed and experienced by the patient (in contrast, the signs are primarily objective phenomena detected by the doctor through relevant test results). Hiccupping is mainly accompanied by the symptoms: slight tightening sensation in the chest/ abdomen/ throat.
Causes are the agents directly responsible for the occurrence of the disease. In most cases, it is not clear what causes a particular disease. On the other hand, a risk factor is not necessarily a cause. A risk factor may be anything that increases the likelihood of a patient developing the disease. For instance, age is a vital risk factor for most malignancies, but it cannot be a cause.
Located under the lungs, the diaphragm is a muscle that contracts every time a person takes a breath. This contraction causes the diaphragm to drop, allowing the lungs to expand and breathe air. Hiccups typically occur when the diaphragm suddenly contracts. Shortly after the contraction begins, the vocal cords abruptly close (producing the hiccup sound).
Nerve damage or irritation, a genuine cause of long-term hiccups, is damage to (or irritation of) the vagus nerve (it is the longest among the 12 cranial nerves. It is the nerve that originates from the neck and passes down between the lungs and the heart to reach the diaphragm). Factors that may cause damage or irritation to these nerves include:
Infection or damage in the central nervous system can disrupt the body’s standard control over hiccup reflux. Examples include:
It occurs when abnormal chemical reactions in the body alter the normal metabolic process in the body. Examples include:
Conclusively, male patients with sedatives undergoing EGD (Esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy) is a procedure used to examine the lining of the esophagus, i.e., swallowing tube), are more likely to suffer from hiccups (as compared to those without sedatives).
Persistent or intractable hiccups can adversely affect daily routine activities, including conversation/ delivering lectures/ eating/ drinking/ sleeping /working. Through their constant interruptive nature, hiccups can cause fatigue/ dehydration/ weight loss/ insomnia/ psychological stress/ decreased quality of life. Conclusively, prolonged hiccups may signal a significant medical problem.
Making lifestyle changes can prevent hiccups by practicing relaxation, such as
Most of the hiccups come and go away automatically within a short time, and medical emergency is rare.
As the 1st line of defense, it is important to apply home remedies.
Various medications (stated below) treat the hiccups, which can cause side effects. So, before taking the medications, it is wise to talk to the doctor.
Like the adults, baby hiccups are also caused by the diaphragm's contraction and the vocal cords' quick closing. The rapid closure of the vocal cords creates the sound of the hiccups; however, unlike the adults, hiccups do not annoy the babies. Many babies can sleep through a bout of hiccups without being disturbed, and the hiccups rarely interfere with the baby’s normal breathing.
Taking a break (from feeding) to burp the baby may help eliminate the hiccups. Because burping helps eliminate excess gas (which causes the hiccups). Burping is also essential as it places the baby in an upright position.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) suggests burying the bottle-fed baby (after feeding every 2-3 ounces). If the baby is breastfed, it is essential to burp it (after they start sucking breast milk).
Advice: It needs to rub or gently pat the baby’s back (not with force) when they have hiccups.
Baby hiccups do not always start from feeding. When the baby starts hiccups, allowing them to suck on a pacifier is essential as it helps relax the diaphragm and, consequently, helps stop the hiccups.
Feeding gripe water may be tried if the baby seems uncomfortable due to their hiccups. (Gripe water is a combination of herbs and water. The herbs include ginger/fennels/cinnamon). Gripe water is a relatively low-risk product.
The treatment procedure is the same irrespective of the adults or the babies. But the causes of hiccups vary. Unlike babies, the prime causes of hiccups among adults are: eating and drinking too much and too quickly in addition to alcohol and carbonated drinks. Hiccups in an adult male are more common (than the females).
One may observe fetal hiccups in the 2nd/ 3rd trimester (A typical pregnancy period lasts for 40 weeks from the 1st day of the last menstrual period to the birth of the baby. It is divided into 3 stages known as 3 trimesters- the 1st trimester beginning from the 1st to the 12th week/ the 2nd trimester beginning from the 13th to the 26th week/ the 3rd trimester beginning from the 27th to the end of the pregnancy period). Many pregnant mothers start to feel these jerky motions in their 6th month of pregnancy. But everyone feels these movements at different times during a particular period. Even though it is difficult to pinpoint why some pregnant women will feel their baby hiccups in the womb, it is considered a good sign and a natural part of pregnancy. However, fetal hiccups rarely indicate something wrong with a pregnancy or fetus.
Babies often hiccup in the mother’s womb before they are born. Veritably, the hiccup is not a matter of concern during pregnancy and causes no distress to the baby. The baby hiccup (in the womb) usually lasts 5-10 minutes. But if the hiccups do not stop within a couple of hours, then it is advised to consult a doctor.
Hiccup during sleep usually occurs because of eating or drinking near bedtime. It may also occur due to underlying medical conditions or certain medications. When a large meal is consumed during bedtime, the stomach expands and gets distended, pressing up on the diaphragm, and causing it (diaphragm) to contract. In this way, eating a large meal near bedtime can produce hiccups.
Drinking many carbonated drinks at bedtime can also produce hiccups (as the air in those drinks can distend the stomach).
Consuming much alcohol (before bed) is another possible cause of hiccups during sleep. Moreover, alcohol is an irritating substance that may stimulate the nerves in the lining of the stomach, leading to reflux of the contraction of the diaphragm.
Reflux of gastric contents often occurs during sleep (especially if a person eats a large meal just before bedtime and, in addition, sleeps in a flat position without raising the head of the bed.).
A: Yes, it can happen. Why? I can’t say. Consult the doctor. There may be a solution for either heartburn or hiccup, or both.
A: It must be mentioned that during light sleep, the hiccup rate exceeds the breathing rate. Whereas during deep sleep, the breathing rate exceeds the hiccup rate. Eating a large meal and, in addition, consuming a large number of carbonated drinks near bedtime can aggravate the problem of hiccups. It is well advised to avoid these unhygienic eating habits, particularly near bedtime.
A: It is misleading to assert that “One must die of hiccups. “ Veritably, hiccups occur in limited episodes (that come and go away mostly without any medication). Humans (even mammals) experience hiccups throughout life. Conclusively, hiccups can be a source of annoyance but not a concern.
Some non-medical home remedies might be effective and should be applied as the 1st line of defense.
Hiccup is a common human experience in life. However, it can create great physical and emotional discomfort in end-stage disease.
Diseases are many, but bad and unhealthy habits are few. Since the risk factor for most malignant diseases (including hiccups) is an unhealthy and idle sedentary lifestyle (such as consuming unhealthy foods and drinks and smoking and alcohol), it is well advised to keep aloof from all those bad, unhealthy habits.
The content provided on HealthSpeeche.com is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this website is written by our team of doctors, who strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information.
However, it is important to note that medical knowledge is constantly evolving, and new research may emerge that could affect the accuracy of the content. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the completeness, timeliness, or accuracy of the information presented on this website.
Any reliance you place on the information provided on HealthSpeeche.com is strictly at your own risk. We recommend consulting a qualified healthcare professional before making any medical decisions or starting any treatment regimen.
HealthSpeeche.com may also contain affiliate links to products on Amazon.com. This means that we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. However, please be assured that this does not influence the content we provide. We only promote products that we believe are of high quality and relevant to our audience.
Please note that the information and opinions expressed on HealthSpeeche.com are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any affiliated organizations or institutions.
By using HealthSpeeche.com, you acknowledge and agree to the above disclaimer. If you have any specific medical concerns or questions, we recommend consulting a healthcare professional.