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What are Hiccups?

A hiccup (hiccough) is a contraction of the diaphragm, a muscle that separates the chest cavity and the abdominal cavity. The contractions of the diaphragm tend to repeat several times per minute. In humans, the sudden rush of air into the lungs leads to closure of the vocal cords and subsequent characteristic 'hic' sound.

Hiccups are medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. They represent an involuntary action and a reflex arc. A bout of hiccups almost always resolve on its own. There is no need for doctor's intervention. Only in case of chronic hiccups patients require adequate treatment.

How Long does Hiccups Last?

Hiccups may last for minutes and in some people the problem may linger for hours. The condition is not so serious but it is more unpleasant and irritating. In many cases hiccups do not last longer than several minutes. They may repeat once in a while. Each and every person has at least for once experienced hiccups. Only in case hiccups last for hours, tend to reoccur frequently or may not even stop one is due to consult a doctor as soon as possible since in the previously mentioned cases hiccups may represent a consequence of some serious medical condition.

What Causes Hiccups?

There are several potential causes of hiccups. In majority of cases hiccups develop as a consequence of bloated stomach. Namely, hiccups affect people who are prone to overeat or eat too quickly. This leads to rapid accumulation of air in the stomach and its swelling which can be a trigger for hiccups. Another potential cause of hiccups is alcohol consumption. In people who consume too much alcohol there is an increased entry of air (originating from the alcohol beverages). Hiccups especially affect people who are heavy drinkers. Furthermore, hiccups also affect heavy smokers. Namely, while smoking the chance of entering of too much air into the stomach increases. The excess of air induces hiccups.

In some people emotional overstress is responsible for occasional bouts of hiccups.

There are several more causes of hiccups. Namely, hiccups may affect people who are allergic to certain allergens. The problem can be also related to certain nervous system disorders. Furthermore, the injury or irritation of the phrenic and vagus nerves almost always leads to onset of hiccups.

Hiccups can be a characteristic of metabolic disorders that affect the nervous system while chronic and unremitting hiccups may point to hyperglycemia. And finally, one more cause of hiccups is intake of certain medications. The problems most commonly affects patients on chemotherapy although it may also occur in case of other medications.

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