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With review and feedback from CEENTA ENT doctor Brett Heavner, MD (Huntersville, Steele Creek)

Hiccups: we’ve all had them, that odd catch when you’re breathing that makes a funny noise. What are hiccups. What is happening to you?

What are hiccups?

Hiccups are repetitive, uncontrollable contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle below your lungs that regulates breathing. It contracts when you take in oxygen and relaxes when you release carbon dioxide. An irritation of your diaphragm can cause spasms that make you suddenly suck air into your throat. The air hits your voice box, causing your vocal cords to abruptly close, which causes the familiar “hic!” sound.

What causes hiccups?

Hiccups have a wide range of causes, from eating too much or too quickly – especially spicy food – drinking too much alcohol or carbonated beverages, stress or excitement, sudden temperature changes, or swallowing too much air.

Why are my hiccups lasting so long?

Most hiccups are short lived, but some can last quite a while. This is often caused by some sort of irritation, including a sore throat, acid reflux, or eardrum irritation. More seriously, they can be the result of a central nervous system disorder such a stroke, a tumor or cyst, meningitis, or multiple sclerosis. They can also be the result of diabetes or kidney failure. Sometimes, medicines such as steroids or anesthesia can trigger hiccups.

How can I treat my hiccups?

Home remedies for hiccups are almost as universal as hiccups themselves. They include everything from eating a spoonful of sugar to holding your breath to drinking a glass of water.

Brett Heavner, MD

Usually, a trip to the doctor is unnecessary. However, if your hiccups last more than 48 hours, you will want to make an appointment so your doctor can determine the cause, CEENTA ENT doctor Brett Heavner, MD, said. If your hiccups are accompanied by stomach pain, fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, or coughing up blood, see your doctor immediately.

Hiccups are one of the body’s odder responses to unexpected stimuli. While they are normally no cause for alarm, CEENTA’s ENT doctors are here if you need them.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. You can now schedule an appointment online with Dr. Heavner or any of our more than 40 ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. You can also schedule through myCEENTAchart or by calling 704-295-3000.


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