Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of the vocal cords, which produces the characteristic “hic” sound.

Hiccups results from a large meal, alcoholic beverages or sudden excitement. In some cases, hiccups may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. For most people, hiccups usually lasts only a few minutes. Rarely, hiccups may persist for months. This can result in malnutrition and exhaustion.

SYMPTOMS

The characteristic sound of a hiccup is the only sign. Make an appointment to see a doctor if  hiccups last more than 48 hours or if they are so severe that they cause problems with eating, sleeping or breathing.

CAUSES

The most common triggers for hiccups that last less than 48 hours include:

●Drinking carbonated beverages

●Drinking too much alcohol

●Eating too much

●Excitement or emotional stress

●Sudden temperature changes

●Swallowing air with chewing gum or sucking on candy

Hiccups that last more than 48 hours may be caused by a variety of factors, which are generally grouped into the following categories.

*Nerve damage or irritation :The most common cause of long-term hiccups is damage to or irritation of the vagus nerves or phrenic nerves, which serve the diaphragm muscle.Factors that may cause damage or irritation to these nerves include:

▪A tumor, cyst or goiter in around the neck

▪Gastroesophageal reflux

▪Sore throat or laryngitis

*Central nervous system disorders: a tumor or infection in the central nervous system or damage to the central nervous system as a result of trauma can disrupt the body’s normal control of the hiccup reflex. Examples include:

○Encephalitis

○Meningitis

○Multiple sclerosis

○Stroke

○Traumatic brain injury

○Tumors

○Metabolic disorders and drugs

Long-term hiccups can be triggered by:

◇Alcoholism

◇Anesthesia

◇Barbiturates

◇Diabetes

◇Electrolyte imbalance

◇Kidney failure

◇Steroids

◇Tranquilizers

RISK FACTORS

Men are much more likely to develop long-term hiccups than are women. Other factors that may increase the risk of hiccups include:

●Mental or emotional issues. Anxiety, stress and excitement have been associated with some cases of short-term and long-term hiccups.

●Surgery. Some people develop hiccups after undergoing general anesthesia or after procedures that involve abdominal organs.

Prolonged hiccups may interfere with:

▪Eating

▪Sleeping

▪Speech

▪Wound healing after surgery

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

During the physical  exam, the doctor may perform a neurological exam to check :

◇Balance and coordination

◇Muscle strength and tone

◇Reflexes

◇Sight and sense of touch

Blood samples may also be checked for signs of:

●Infection

●Diabetes

●Kidney disease

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDY

Although there’s no certain way to stop hiccups, if  hiccups that lasts longer than a few minutes, the following home remedies may provide relief, although they are unproven:

*Breathe into a paper bag

*Gargle with ice water

*Hold your breath

*Sip cold water

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