Have you ever wondered why you get hiccups? Hiccups are result of uncontrolled contraction of diaphragm muscles. Diaphragm muscle is situated below lungs and it creates boundary between chest and abdomen. The main role of diaphragm muscle is to help in breathing. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts and allows the oxygen to enter the lungs while when we exhale carbon dioxide from the lungs making the diaphragm muscles expand. Sometimes the diaphragm muscles are irritated and start the reverse process resulting in hiccups.
In medical terms hiccups is known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus.
How frequent it occurs?
Mostly hiccups start and end abruptly within few minutes. As the hiccups continue the chest cavity stiffs and produces the hiccups sound. At times hiccups persist for 1-2 days indicating some diseases. This may be due to any injury in nerves which control movement of diaphragm.
Why do you get hiccups
There is no specific reason for hiccups. Based on the duration of hiccups scientists have tried to find the possible reasons of its occurrence. Let’s talk some of them.
Short term hiccups
- It may occur if you are eating spicy food or eating too much.
- If you are eating or drinking in a hurry.
- Consuming alcohol also causes hiccups.
- Drinking aerated drinks may be a reason for hiccups.
- If you have a habit of talking while eating you may get hiccups. This results in intake of lot of air causing a disturbed diaphragm action.
- If you are experiencing any emotional stress or have an excitement you may get hiccups.
- One very bizarre reason for hiccups is swallowing air while chewing a gum.
- Hiccups are sometime a side effect of certain medications.
Hiccups for 2-3 days
A throat infection with soreness could result in hiccups sometimes.If you have goiter you may experience frequent hiccups. Goiter is actually the enlargement of thyroid gland. This disease is caused due to deficiency of iodine in the body. Sometimes due to unknown reasons the reflux of gut salts occurs. In this situation the food pipe i.e. esophagus starts in fluxing the acids from stomach, the condition being termed as gastroesophageal reflux.
Long term persistent hiccups
Persistent hiccups are very irritating and sometimes may be life threatening as they may cut the oxygen supply to the body. In this case the nerves of diaphragm are either disturbed or damaged. The reasons for disturbance in these nerves could be possibly because of some external interference with ear drum. A tumor or cyst present in esophagus may be a reason for persistent hiccups. One most important reason for hiccups could be damage of central nervous system (CNS). In this case the body loses its control of signaling the voluntary muscles to control a hiccup. The CNS damage could be caused by any brain injury, meningitis, tumor or cardiac arrest. A patient of Parkinson’s disease may experience hiccups frequently where the brain is confused about sending signals for controlling hiccups.
In all we can say that hiccup is a general phenomenon of body. If the hiccups persist, do visit your doctor to find out the possible reasons.
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