Did you know that a person can hiccup up anywhere from four to sixty times a minute? For those who experience this gastro-phenomenon more often, that can add up to many daily (and nightly!) interruptions.
If this sounds familiar and your symptoms have you searching for “what causes hiccups?” then this article is for you. Continue reading to learn the causes of hiccups in adults and how to best treat them.
What Are Hiccups?
Beneath your lungs and above your abdomen is a sheet of muscle called the diaphragm. This muscle system does more than separate your lunch cavity from the rest of your body; it’s instrumental in helping you breathe. It does so by contracting and relaxing, causing your lungs to inhale and exhale, respectively.
Hiccups occur when your diaphragm contracts involuntarily and causes a quick, sharp intake of air which then causes your epiglottis to slam shut to prevent accidental inhalation of food or water. This is what results in the “hic”-ing sound that is characteristic of hiccups.
Now that you know the physiological reasons you hiccup, it’s time to learn what causes hiccups in adults.
Four Common Causes of Hiccups in Adults
There are many causes of hiccups in adults, most completely innocuous. Often, someone will experience hiccups after eating or drinking too quickly, drinking a lot of soda, or drinking a very hot or very cold beverage. You might also have hiccups after drinking an alcoholic beverage, eating spicy foods, or during stressful times.
Overall, the causes can be broken down into four categories; what you eat or drink, how fast you consume it, being stressed or scared, or at times hiccups can be random.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention for Hiccups?
Long-term hiccups are classified as being persistent if they last for a couple of days and intractable when your symptoms haven’t resolved for months. In some rare cases, your hiccups can signify an underlying and potentially serious illness. Therefore, you should be concerned if you can’t apply any of the usual causes of hiccups to your situation or if your hiccups last for 48 hours or longer.
The causes of hiccups that won’t go away range from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to certain cancers.
However, only a medical professional can properly diagnose you. So, if you’re experiencing persistent or intractable hiccups, you should see your doctor immediately.
Ways to Get Rid of Hiccups
Treatment for hiccups varies in effectiveness for every person because there is no single cause. Those with occasional hiccups from diet or stress may find drinking room temperature water, nibbling on some crackers, or holding their breath works to get rid of them.
But, if you experience hiccups more often and there are no known medical reasons, your doctor may prescribe certain medications that can reduce their occurrence. There are also other products on the market that may help alleviate symptoms.
For example, Hiccupops are lollipops that contain a proprietary blend of ingredients they claim resets the hiccup reflex. And if you’re wondering, “what are hiccupops?” click here to learn more.
However, you should note that this wouldn’t treat any serious underlying causes of your hiccups.
Hiccups Shouldn’t Impact Your Life
For most, hiccups seldom occur, and they leave as fast as they arrive. However, for others, they can become an annoying hindrance to their lives. Fortunately, knowing the causes of hiccups in adults is the first step to reclaiming a hiccup-free life.
But remember, unless you went to medical school, you’re not qualified to diagnose yourself. So if you notice your hiccups have changed, become more persistent, or last longer than normal, you should seek a doctor’s opinion right away.
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