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Why Do We Get Hiccups?

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Last updated date: 02nd Mar 2024
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Hiccups: Cause, Meaning, and Treatment

One of the most annoying physiological phenomena that happen to us is hiccups. We make funny sounds with our mouths with a jerk in the upper part of the body. It is sometimes short-spanned but some can remain up to 48 hours. So, what is a hiccup? Let us find out what it is and the scientific reason behind its formation.


What are Hiccups?

It is a reflex action shown by the diaphragm, a strong muscle present under the lungs and above the stomach. This muscle is responsible for the breathing process of a human being. Due to some reasons, when this muscle is irritated, it spasms. Due to uncontrolled contraction of this muscle, we are forced to suck in air through the throat. This sudden suction of air causes a hic sound.


A Boy Experiencing Hiccups


A Boy Experiencing Hiccups


You must know that this muscle controls the inhalation and exhalation of air done by the muscles. It contracts to make the lungs bigger and help in inhaling air and vice versa. This is a natural process and we do not make sounds while breathing. The hiccup sounds are made when our voice box collapses due to the faster inhalation of a lot of air.


Causes of Hiccups

We have now understood which muscle causes hiccups. You might have seen that we cannot control hiccups at all. It will continue on its own and recede eventually. What is the reason behind the spasm or sudden contraction in the diaphragm? Let us find out.


  • If there is a sudden change in the temperature in the surrounding area, we can experience a hiccup.

  • Stress can cause hiccups.

  • When someone is excited or nervous due to certain situations, it can cause hiccups.

  • The most common reason behind hiccups is eating too fast and too much at a time. Gulping food too much without chewing often partially blocks the breathing pipe located behind the food pipe. Hiccups clear the passage as a reflex action.

  • People drinking carbonated water too much can also experience hiccups. Heavy alcohol drinkers also experience hiccups sometimes.


Types of Hiccups

We have learned the hiccup causes. Let us find out the type of hiccups.


  • Short-term hiccups: This type of hiccup lasts for a few minutes.

  • Long-term hiccups: Due to certain issues inside the body, this type of hiccup can last for days.


Hiccups can Happen to Anyone


Hiccups can Happen to Anyone


How Can We Stop Hiccups?

You will be surprised to know that we don’t know the actual physiological reason behind the formation of hiccups. Hence, finding its remedy is not possible either. Many suggest holding your breath to let the hiccup go away. It works when someone has consumed a lot of food altogether. Blowing in and out in a paper bag can also work. Experts say that carbon dioxide builds inside the lungs during blowing in a paper bag and can stabilise the diaphragm.


Do You Know?

You have learned how do you get hiccups. Do you know the longest span of hiccup episodes recorded is 60 years?


Tips for Parents

Explain the hiccup definition and show what it is with audiovisual files. They will learn about this natural phenomenon and will understand the cause accordingly.

FAQs on Why Do We Get Hiccups?

1. Is hiccup sneezing?

When we sneeze, we exhale air. A hiccup happens when we inhale air faster.

2. Why do we make hiccup sounds?

Inhaling a lot of air at once hits the voice box causing a hiccup sound.

3. Is a hiccup similar to coughing?

Coughing is a process to exhale air through the throat. Hiccups are caused due to inhaling air. We cough to clear our throats.