What is hiccups?
Hiccups are a disorder that many people suffer at some point in life, it is intermittent contractions in the diaphragm muscle located in the chest, and between the muscles required for breathing, which close abruptly and interrupt a brief breathing.
Hiccups are not considered serious, since they can be suffered in a matter of seconds without being able to prolong any longer. However, there are varying degrees of hiccups that, if not treated properly, can disrupt important everyday activities of daily living.
Note: A medical study mentions something important“Thefrequency of spasmsranges from 4 to 60 per minute and is usually constant in the person who suffers from it. Unlike other reflexes (cough, vomiting) this symptom does not serve as a protective or physiological function.” (1)
What are the causes of hiccups?
Hiccups have various causes, most are not so serious but rather light and common, however it is not a reason not to be informed and aware. That is why we share the main causes of hiccups:
1. Eating fast and in excess
It is a common symptom, since when eating fast the throat does not quickly process all the food that is swallowed, which means that it can get stuck, causing digestion not to take place at the right time, causing gas after having digested the food.
Note: You should not eat quickly or in excess since, in addition to the annoying hiccups (due to the sudden closing of the throat muscle), the health of the organism in general can be harmed.
2. Nervousness and stress
It is not always physical things that can cause hiccups, see the case of nervousness and stress, because these alterations tense the body or change body temperature.
What generates spasms and inadequate controls in certain muscles of the body, including in the diaphragm, causing uncontrollable hiccups.
3. Irritation of the throat or stomach
Hiccups can be caused by throat irritation , either from infections or itchiness from eating extremely hot foods, or from heartburn, which is related to the stomach digesting heavy, indigestible foods.
Note: If this is not treated properly, the hiccups and small twitches can last for days.
4. Spicy foods
Spicy foods such as hot peppers, jalapeños, among others, can cause irritation or inflammation in the throat (of very sensitive people) and with a prior effect, hiccups. Although it does not usually last long, it Can be annoying at the time of social outings or a formal dinner with a group of people.
5. Alcoholic and soft drinks
Alcoholic beverages or soft drinks can be very strong for the body , especially those who are not used to consuming these beverages, which causes obstruction of the diaphragm and small immediate spasms to generate hiccups, being annoying at undesirable moments.
Note: Thanks to a medical study it is known that “Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause hiccups. Its pathogenesis has been related either to gastric distension, or because alcohol is capable of suppressing the inhibition exerted by the cerebral cortex in the origin of hiccups”. (two)
6. Respiratory inflammation
Respiratory inflammation may be due to a number of various respiratory diseases, which may be linked to or have hiccups as a symptom. Some of these diseases can be pulmonary and obstructive , being harmful or being the most serious cases of hiccups.
Important: It is known that “Respiratory or pulmonary inflammation is a condition characterized by inflammation of the airway, destruction and remodeling of the lung parenchyma; resulting in obstruction of expiratory airflow. (3)
How to stop hiccups quickly?
There are certain recommendations that must be taken into account to remove the hiccups, quickly and effectively. They can be easily applied at home and do not require many unnecessary materials:
1. Drink cold water
Cold water has incredible benefits beyond quenching thirst, it helps mainly for muscle recovery after long exercises.
The same applies in the case of hiccups, if the muscles are contracted , the cold water will relieve them little by little,without pain or discomfort. But do not consume too much water or the result could be worse.
2. Hold your breath briefly
This can be quite practical and it is not a tool that you should discard, all you have to do is hold your breath for at least 10 seconds (even a few minutes), so that the muscles release themselves from the tension they have , when the hiccups are trapped and the spasm has nowhere to come out.
3. Breathe into a paper bag
This is an effective method , not only to directly eliminate hiccups, but also for hyperventilation , which can also cause hiccups, and is directly related to anxiety, stress, and even annoying nervousness.
It’s simple, breathing into the paper bag largely recovers the air or carbon dioxide that has been lost, stabilizing blood circulation.
4. Sneeze or cough
Sneezing and coughing can be a very viable option to get rid of hiccups, since this is a short spasm and not as strong. Therefore, sneezing or coughingcauses increased chest pressure , which causes the respiratory muscles to open immediately, thus directly eliminating hiccups.
5. Bend the knees towards the chest
This is a yoga exercise, effective in releasing tension in the body and improving direct chest breathing.
Tip: You just have to find yourself lying down and bend your knees towards your chest, you support yourself with your arms to keep them on your chest without moving, then you slowly inhale and exhale, recovering your breath and eliminating hiccups.
6. Compress the chest
The technique of compressing the chest is also part of the physical exercises , this is the case of compression so that the chest has pressure on the diaphragm, it can be done easily by leaning forward or crouching in the same position. All in order to release muscle contractions.
7. Valsalva maneuver
The Valsalva maneuver is a very efficient medical technique for patients with shortness of breath or dyspnea.
It consists of a forced expiration against the closed glottis or by extension to a resistance , from which a simple method follows where the patient inhales and exhales for 10 to 15 seconds, releasing the air abruptly.
Note: A medical study mentions that “The Valsalva maneuver is a tool of a non-invasive and free nature, but forgotten and wasted, capable of providing important information on the cause of symptoms such as dyspnea” . (4)
8. Drink water by pinching your nose
It is a home method that is easily applied, you only need a glass of water and you must drink it by squeezing your nose, since there is no space where the air can escape.
This will cause the water to be in the throat, release the respiratory muscles that are contracted, immediately eliminating the hiccups.
9. Consume sugar, lemon or vinegar
There are certain edible elements that can cause effective gases, which when released eliminate hiccups and muscle tension.
In this sense, there are sugar, vinegar and of course lemon, which can serve as acids that release stomach gases through the mouth, causing hiccups to lose their strength.
10. Focus attention on other things
Always focus on other people’s things, whether it’s a small activity that distracts youfrom the moment, like watching a movie or even cooking. This will makethe treatments work faster and you won’t focus too much on whether the hiccups will still be present.
In this way, you can easily forget about it and allow the treatment you have chosen to be effective .
- Hiccups are a very common disorder in people.
- It occurs due to a sudden contraction in the respiratory muscles and the diaphragm, in addition to nerves and anxiety.
- Children, adolescents and adults can suffer from it.
- It has different degrees , such as being acute, persistent, or severe.
- The treatments are effective and you do not need to see a doctor to apply them.
- You have to stay focused on outside activities to forget the annoying situation of hiccups, even when applying treatments.
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.