Hiccups: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects
Last Updated: Oct 06, 2021
What is the treatment?
Hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the opening between the vocal cords snaps shut to check the inflow of air and makes the hiccup sound. Irritation of the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest can cause hiccups.
Many conditions can cause this irritation and result in hiccups, including eating too fast and swallowing air, chewing gum, smoking, eating or drinking too much, strokes, brain tumors, damage to the vagus or phrenic nerve, some medications, noxious fumes, anxiety and stress, and in babies, hiccups may be associated with crying, coughing, or gastroesophageal reflux disorder.
Hiccups are rarely a cause for concern, but if hiccups become frequent, chronic, and persistent (lasting more than 3 hours), if they affect sleeping patterns, interfere with eating, cause reflux of food or vomiting, occur with severe abdominal pain, fever, shortness of breath, spitting up blood, or feeling as if the throat is going to close up, then you need to consult a doctor.
There are numerous home remedies to get rid of hiccups, including holding your breath, drinking a glass of water quickly, having someone frighten or surprise you, using smelling salts, pulling hard on your tongue, and others.
For severe or chronic hiccups that are not cured with home treatment, medical treatments include medications, anesthesia to block the phrenic nerve, and surgical implantation of an electronic stimulator to the vagus nerve. Surgery to disable the phrenic nerve is a treatment of last resort.
What are Hiccups a sign of?
Generally, Hiccups can be a sign of overeating, bloating, or trapped air bubbles in the lungs. This can fade away on its own within a few seconds or minutes. But in case the Hiccups are constantly and prolong for hours or days, it can be a sign of a serious medical condition like:
- Kidney disease.
- Overaction of the thyroid gland.
- Damage to the sensory nerves or part of the brain is associated with the functioning of the diaphragm.
Furthermore, it can also be a side effect of medical treatment and medication like Surgery of the abdominal or chest and consumption of nicotine gum or epilepsy medications.
Is it normal to hiccup in your sleep?
The general existence of Hiccups is not considered normal, so either they occur during the day or night time, they are not normal.
But if in case the duration of Hiccups escalates from hours to days, in that case, it is considered as a serious case as they can be representing major medical conditions.
Why do Hiccups come?
The main process that causes irritation in the diaphragm is Spasm in the muscles of the organ causing air bubbles in your lungs. When the air bubbles try to escape, they jump up straight to the mouth while taking a hit to the voice box causing the sound 'hic' when they finally make their way out.
Why do Hiccups hurt?
The spasm caused by diaphragm muscles and the development of sudden air bubbles can be painful. Generally, One may experience mild chest and throat pain. But in cases where the spasm lasts for days, the pain can be painful to an extent that can hamper your daily life activities like eating, sleeping, etc. The long-lasting spasms can also affect other connected muscles, which can make the pain even worse.
When should I be concerned about Hiccups?
The severity of Hiccups can be determined on the basis of their time duration. It is normal for Hiccups to last up to few hours. In that case one does not need to visit a doctor, some home remedies will do the trick.
But in case they last for more than two days, in that case, it can be a sign of something serious. Also if your Hiccups are followed by other signs like dizziness, headache, or unstable body balance, then it is advisable to seek medical attention.
How is the treatment done?
Most cases of hiccups generally go away on their own without any need for treatment. There are numerous home remedies to get rid of hiccups, including holding your breath, drinking a glass of water quickly, having someone frighten or surprise you, using smelling salts, pulling hard on your tongue, and others. A big spoonful of peanut butter is a classic cure if you're pondering how to get rid of hiccups. In the process of chewing and getting it off your tongue and teeth, your swallowing and breathing patterns are interrupted. This stops the hiccups before you even know it.
If an underlying medical condition is causing your hiccups, treatment of that illness may eliminate the hiccups. If that is the case, then your doctor will perform a few tests such as neurological tests, blood tests and imaging tests, and will then prescribe medication that you can take.
If less invasive treatments aren't effective, your doctor may recommend an injection of an anesthetic to block your phrenic nerve to stop hiccups. Another option is to surgically implant a battery-operated device to deliver mild electrical stimulation to your vagus nerve. This procedure is most commonly used to treat epilepsy, but it has also helped control persistent hiccups.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Hiccups are generally not a cause for concern, and they generally go away on their own in a short while. However, if hiccups become chronic, or are accompanied by vomiting, shortness of breath and fever, then it is necessary to see a doctor.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Hiccups are a very common phenomenon, and are generally not a cause for concern. Hiccups are usually not serious, and if they go away on their own in a short while, then there is no need to consult a doctor or get any kind of treatment.
Are there any side effects?
Hiccups don’t generally have any side effects, except for causing annoyance and discomfort. In case the hiccups last for an extended period of time, then you might experience some shortness of breath and tightness in the throat. These side effects are not very common, and even if they do occur, they should go away on their own along with the hiccups, within a short period of time. Hiccups itself don’t cause any other side effects, but they are often thought to be a side effect of some underlying disease, especially if the hiccups are chronic, or if they refuse to go away.
Is Hiccups good or bad?
Since Hiccups are caused by irritation in or around diaphragm muscles, it is not considered a good sign.
In most cases, they naturally get resolved within a short span of time, but if not they can be a sign of a major underlying medical condition.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
Once the hiccups go away, they probably won’t come back again for quite some time, unless there is some underlying condition or disease that needs to be treated properly. So there is no fixed set of guidelines that you need to follow once your hiccups have gone.
How long does it take to recover?
Hiccups usually stop within a few minutes to a few hours. Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are called persistent hiccups. Hiccups that last longer than a month are called intractable hiccups. While very rare, intractable hiccups can cause exhaustion, lack of sleep, and weight loss.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
There is no fixed rate for the treatment of hiccups, as they are generally cured without any medical intervention. However, in case there is need for medical intervention, it is generally to treat some other underlying condition which is causing the hiccups, so in that case, the cost of treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
Once your hiccups go away, they can often come back if you exposed to the same conditions that triggered them the last time. Hiccups generally come and go, and there is no need to worry over them, unless they becomes chronic and last for over 2 days.
Why does peanut butter stop Hiccups?
Due to its heavy nature, peanut butter takes time to swallow and digest. This gap will reconstruct the pattern of breathing and eating giving the time to the body to control the spasms within themselves. Eating a spoonful can give you instant effects.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Hiccups usually go away on their own without any treatment. However, in case the hiccups last for over a period of 48 hours, then there are a few treatments that can be tried without opting for taking medication. These include acupuncture, hypnotherapy and a device similar to a pacemaker which has an effect on the phrenic nerve that controls the diaphragm muscle.
Summary: Hiccup is a sound that is made by your voice box when some sudden air bubbles hit it. Some of the main causes include spasms in diaphragm muscles or sudden contraction in the glottis.
- Hiccups- Medline Plus, Health Topics, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 01 August 2019]. Available from:
- Hiccups- Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 01 August 2019]. Available from:
- Hiccups- Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. merckmanuals.com 2018 [Cited 01 August 2019]. Available from:
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