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What Are Hiccups a Sign Of And When Should I Consult a Doctor?

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society


Written by Red Ricafort · Updated Jun 21, 2021

What Are Hiccups a Sign Of And When Should I Consult a Doctor?

Hiccups can be annoying. But should you be worried if your hiccups last longer than usual? Let’s look at what normally causes hiccups, how to stop them, and what are hiccups a sign of.

What are hiccups?

Hiccups are your diaphragm’s involuntary contractions. Your diaphragm is a muscle with a vital role in breathing. It separates your chest and abdomen. After every involuntary contraction, your vocal chords suddenly close up, causing the sound you make when you hiccup.

Causes

Hiccups can be caused by multiple factors.

You have certain nerves from your neck to your chest. When these are irritated, this can cause hiccups. Here are some instances when these nerves could become irritated:

  • Having your stomach full with food, alcohol, or air
  • Getting excited, stressed, or feeling other strong emotions
  • Sudden change in temperature
  • Chewing gum (this can cause you to swallow air)

Home remedies for hiccups

To get rid of these hiccups and resume your daily activities, you can try some remedies on your own. As long as your hiccups aren’t recurring or persistent, you can try these methods first. Although these methods aren’t proven to help everyone experiencing hiccups, you can still try if these may work on you.

You can try the following:

  • Try to hold your breath for a short period of time
  • Drink ice cold water slowly
  • Breathe into a paper bag but don’t put it over your head

Hiccups lasting longer than 48 hours are called persistent hiccups. There may be underlying medical conditions that cause these. If your hiccups last longer than 48 hours, it is best to contact your healthcare provider for a proper check-up.

In addition to persistent hiccups, you may also experience recurring hiccups that affect regular daily life. It is also advisable to consult with a doctor on this.

What are persistent hiccups a sign of? 

If your hiccups last for more than 48 hours, make sure to check in with your healthcare provider to see if you have an underlying medical condition. The hiccups may also be a side effect of medication that you’re on.

An endoscopy may be used to determine if you may be experiencing ailments like acid reflux or even cancer.

Recurring or persistent hiccups may also be a sign of the following:

  • A thyroid or neck mass thay may press on the nerves affecting your diaphragm
  • Anxiety or stress disorders
  • Damage to your central nervous system
  • Disorders affecting your metabolism

If your healthcare provider is unable to pinpoint the reason why you’re experiencing these problematic hiccups, they may still be able to provide a medicine that could help. Although this may not be effective for all.

Key takeaway

Hiccups could just be a minor annoyance and although there are no actual home remedies that surely work for everyone, you can try various things to help you stop.. However, you may also experience recurring or persistent hiccups that affect your day-to-day activities. In these instances, it’s important to know what are hiccups a sign of, and to immediately seek medical attention.

Learn about Other Digestive Health Issues here.

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society


Written by Red Ricafort · Updated Jun 21, 2021

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