Singultus ( Hiccups,Hiccough )

Hiccups are a reflexive contraction of the diaphragm, causing a fitful inhalation of air. The inhaling process is stopped by a quick closure of the vocal folds, so that the typical “hic” can be heard. It can be caused by an irritation of the diaphragm because of extreme stomach filling, cold, gassy drinks, consumption of alcohol or inflammable irritations.

Full Description

The cause of hiccups is not well known. Too much food, or eating too fast is suspected to cause hiccups, as well as fast drinking, cold or gassy drinks, or, very traditional, somebody is thinking of you. In these cases, the hiccups don’t last long and disappears spontaneously. However, there are also some documented causes for hiccups, including concussion and irritation of the diaphragm nerves. A heart attack can also cause hiccups, as does pancreatitis. Heartburn is also a common cause for hiccups. In some cases, hiccups can last for days, up to years, often caused by heartburn or sometimes concussion. But in most cases the cause is unknown.



Medical Conditions

With repeated reflexive inhaling, talking becomes difficult. Long-term forms can cause various complications such as sleeping disorders, hypoxia and depressions. The most common triggers for hiccups that last less than 48 hours include swallowing air with sucking on candy or chewing gum, sudden changes of temperature, emotional stress or excitement as well as eating and drinking too much alcohol or carbonated beverages. Hiccups that last over 48 hours can be triggered by different factors including irritation or nerve damage, central nervous system disorders such as tumors, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, meningitis and encephalitis. Drugs and medical disorders such as with tranquilizers, steroids, kidney failure, electrolyte imbalance, diabetes, barbiturates, anesthesia, and alcoholism can cause also long-term hiccups. The only sign is the characteristic sound of a hiccup. Sometimes, the only symptom is a little tightening feeling in the throat, chest or abdomen that precedes the sound.


Because the cause is unknown in most cases, usually only the symptoms of hiccups can be treated, if necessary. Treatment can include a variety of home remedies, such as holding breath for a long time or exhaling into a paper bag. A variety of medication can be taken for chronic hiccups, but which one leads to the desired success has to be identified by trial-and-error. If the cause is known (e.g. heartburn), it can be treated (e.g. gastric acid blockers). Once the heartburn subsides, the hiccups will subside as well. Hiccups are generally harmless, but can be burdensome for the patient.