What is Hiccups?
What is Hiccups? Hiccups or singultus is a distinctive sound like ‘hik’ due to the sudden closing of the vocal cords triggered by the contraction of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscular membrane of the chest and abdominal cavity that plays an important role in the respiratory system.
Hiccups can be experienced by all ages, including infants. The duration of time when a person experiences hiccups varies greatly, but mostly only a few minutes.
There are several things that can cause the diaphragm to contract so that trigger the occurrence of hiccups, including:
- Soft drink
- Hot drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Spicy food
- Temperature changes occur suddenly
- Eat too much
- Eat too fast
- Swallow food that is too hot or too cold
In addition to the above things, hiccups can also be triggered by our emotional states, such as feelings of joy, sadness, or stress.
The Right Time to Get Yourself Doctor
See your doctor if you experience frequent hiccups or hiccups lasting more than two days. This condition could happen due to:
- Metabolic disorders (eg due to hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or diabetes).
- Vaginal nerve disorders (eg in cases of meningitis, pharyngitis, and mumps).
- Nervous system disorders (eg due to severe brain injury, inflammation of brain tissue or encephalitis, tumors, and stroke).
- Respiratory disorders (eg pleurisy disease, pneumonia, and asthma).
- Digestive disorders (eg due to bowel obstruction, colitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)).
- Psychological reactions (eg stress, joy, sadness, fear, or shock).
In addition to these conditions, prolonged hiccups may also occur due to side effects of medication use, for example:
- Chemotherapy drugs (drugs used to kill cancer cells).
- Opioid pain relievers (eg, methadone and morphine).
- Benzodiazepine (a group of tranquilizers to overcome anxious attacks).
- Anesthesia (a drug that induces numbing or loss of consciousness usually given before undergoing surgical procedures).
- Methyldopa (a drug usually prescribed in the treatment of hypertension).
- Barbiturate (a type of sedative that is sometimes given to overcome seizures).
- Corticosteroids (drugs to overcome swelling and inflammation).
Diagnosis of Hiccups
The examination will be done by the doctor to find out the cause of the longstanding hiccups. First of all, the doctor may need to perform a neurological examination to measure reflexes, coordination and general balance, the ability to feel touch, tone and muscle strength, as well as the vision of the patient.
If a doctor suspects a patient hiccup is caused by a health problem, further investigation is necessary. One is a blood test to detect signs of infection, kidney disease, or diabetes. In addition to blood tests, your doctor may suggest to do:
- Endoscopy. Examination using small-sized hose-shaped devices equipped with lights and cameras is done if the hiccups are suspected to be associated with indigestion, such as gastric acid disease or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Scan with CT scan, MRI scan, or X-ray. This method is done to ascertain whether there is interference in the diaphragm, phrenic nerve, and vagus nerve caused by anatomical abnormalities.
Treatment of Hiccups
In cases of long-lasting hiccups, doctors need to address the underlying problems to stop hiccups. For example, if hiccups are a complication of asthma based on the diagnosis, then treatment of asthma will be the doctor’s top priority. Naturally, the hiccups will subside once the asthma is successfully controlled. If the hiccups arise from the reaction of a drug used, then the physician needs to adjust the dose of the drug or even replace it with other drugs that do not cause side effects of hiccups.
If the hiccups are not caused by an underlying condition or drug reaction, then the hiccups will usually subside by themselves without the need for medical treatment. There are several ways you can help to stop hiccups more quickly, including:
- Bend forward so that your chest feels like depressed.
- Pull both knees up to touch the chest.
- Breathing in a paper bag.
- Taste vinegar.
- Swallowing sugar.
- Bite the lemon.
- Hold your breath in a relatively short time.
- Drink cold water slowly.
Unknown Treatment Causes of Hiccups
If long-lasting hiccups are unknown, even if an examination has been performed, then it is possible that the doctor will prescribe the medication to stop it. Some types of hiccups that may be available are gabapentin, metoclopramide, baclofen, haloperidol, and chlorpromazine.
Be sure to always comply with the recommended rules advised by your doctor to avoid unwanted side effects. If the hiccup returns after the dose is reduced or after the end of drug use, see your doctor again.