Hiccups start suddenly and are often not seen as a serious disease. However, if they endure, it might turn into a troubling health problem. While hiccups might be easily stopped by a number of techniques, they might sometimes be extremely persistent. Hiccup attacks, which might be intermittent or sequential, can create stress. In addition, hiccups that last more than 48 hours might be the symptom of serious diseases such as laryngeal diseases, lung and brain tumors, pericarditis and blockage of blood vessels in the brain. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Asım Şafak from Memorial Antalya Hospital's department of otolaryngology provided information about hiccups.
Hiccups are caused by rhythmic contractions of the diaphragm, one of the respiratory muscles, and sometimes by the contraction of muscles between the ribs, creating a sudden and rapid breathing action interrupted by the closure of the vocal cords. It is called hiccups because of the "hic" sound that occurs during the spasms. It can continue by repeating about 4-60 times per minute. Types of hiccups are classified according to their duration. If they last less than 48 hours, they are acute hiccups; those lasting 2-30 days are "persistent" and those lasting longer than 1 month are called "unbearable" hiccups.
Hiccups usually occur as a result of gastrointestinal and central nervous system disorders. Acute hiccups usually occur in children and usually resolve spontaneously. When they persist, they might make your life unbearable. They can make it significantly harder for you to eat, sleep and socialize. There are over 100 identified causes of hiccups but in cases of persistent hiccups, central nervous system diseases should be considered.
The causes that trigger hiccups are as follows:
l Reflux disease
Stretching the stomach with excess food or fizzy drinks
Excessive consumption of hot spices
Excessive alcohol intake
Stimulation of lungs with cigarette or irritating odors
State of extreme enthusiasm or sadness
If hiccups are the only complaint, brain diseases are often ruled out since there are no other symptoms. Reflux disease and hernias are among the first possible causes. Heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease, pericarditis and aortic aneurysm, should be investigated. Nose, nasal and laryngeal diseases should be investigated, and external ear canal foreign bodies should be considered. Hiccups might also be caused by electrolyte imbalances, uremia, hyperglycemia, intoxication or the side effects of certain drugs. Hiccups might also emerge as a result of psychological conditions, such as excessive anxiety, excessive stress and euphoria.
A number of physical moves can be effective for the treatment of sudden onset and short-term hiccups. These are noise and nasal applications, stimulation of the vagus nerve and respiratory maneuvers. For the treatment of persistent and unbearable hiccups, it is very important to identify the underlying disease. However, it might be necessary to resort to symptomatic drug treatments in cases where the cause of the disease cannot be determined or the underlying disease cannot be treated.
Seven impromptu methods that can be applied to help stop hiccups include:
Smelling a pungent substance such as lemon or ammonia
Taking a deep breath and holding it
Touching the back of the tongue with a small spoon to stimulate the gag reflex in the throat
Swallowing ice or drinking ice water
Washing the face with cold water or applying a cold compress to the face.