Hiccups (singultus) • What helps against hiccups?

Hiccups (singultus) are usually harmless and merely a stimulus reaction of the body. Sometimes hiccups can also become chronic and result in secondary diseases. What helps against hiccups, what to watch out for when babies hiccup and how to prevent chronification.

Hiccups are usually annoying for the person affected. Others find him mostly funny. Colloquially, hiccups are called “hiccups”, in medicine singultus. Usually hiccups are harmless and go away on their own after a few minutes. He can catch people multiple times in a lifetime, at any time. Even babies in the womb have hiccups. Doctors suspect that it trains the breathing reflex in unborn babies and protects them from inhaling amniotic fluid. In adults, the hiccup appears to have no specific use, being an evolutionary relic.

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Amazing home remedies for common diseases

How do hiccups occur?

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm spasms. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscles and tendons that separates the upper abdomen from the lower abdomen and rises and falls with each breath. When the diaphragm cramps, the glottis in the larynx closes abruptly and the inhaled air bounces off – this is how the loud and mostly audible hissing sound is produced. Every new breath irritates the nerve that coordinates the diaphragm muscles (Nervus phrenicus) – and the muscular partition in the abdominal cavity spasms again. The hiccups cannot be suppressed. Some hiccup twice a minute, others up to 60 times a minute.

If hiccups last longer than 48 hours, they can become chronic. The swallowing and breathing muscles contract, which is extremely painful. In this case, seek medical advice to clarify the causes. Untreated hiccups sometimes have unpleasant consequences such as reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus (reflux disease), lack of sleep or heart problems.

Acute and chronic hiccups – the causes

Doctors differentiate between acute and chronic hiccups. Acute hiccups are not an illness, they are harmless and usually go away on their own after a few minutes. Chronic hiccups, on the other hand, last longer than 48 hours – they are much less common.

Acute hiccups: causes

Acute hiccups usually occur when you eat too quickly or when you swallow large portions. Consumption of carbonated beverages, large amounts of alcohol, and cold and hot foods can also irritate the phrenic nerve and trigger hiccups. In addition, psychological factors are known to cause hiccups. These include, for example

  • violent shock,
  • fear or
  • sudden excitement.

Acute hiccups also occur frequently during pregnancy because the baby presses on the diaphragm.

Chronic hiccups: causes

Sometimes the unpleasant hiccups last for two days or longer. The following reasons are possible:

The hiccups rarely last for several months or even years despite treatment. Then it is called treatment-resistant hiccups. Those affected suffer from pain, sleep disorders, enormous mental stress and withdraw from social life. The constant hiccups significantly reduce the quality of life.

Hiccup diagnosis: After 48 hours to the doctor

Always seek medical advice if you hiccup for more than 48 hours. In order to find out the causes of the hiccups, the symptoms and medical history (anamnesis) are carefully examined. Among other things, these questions are important:

  • When did the hiccups first appear?

  • How long has it been going on?

  • Were there symptom-free phases between the hiccup episodes?

  • In what situations did the hiccups surface, such as eating or drinking?

  • Do you also have trouble sleeping at night? This is an indication of a physical cause.

  • Are you aware of any diseases, such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases or brain diseases?

  • Have you recently had an operation, for example in the area of ​​the neck, chest and abdomen?

  • Do you regularly take medication, such as sleeping pills?

  • Do you suffer from psychological stress, such as anxiety or stress?

  • Do you consume alcohol, and if so, how much? An honest answer helps more here than a little cheating.

If the doctor can rule out harmless reasons, various examination methods follow to get closer to the causes. These include, among others:


Treatment: What helps against hiccups?

Acute hiccups do not require medical treatment because they usually go away on their own after a short time. Treatment for chronic hiccups depends on the cause. Doctors try to treat the underlying condition that is causing the hiccups. Drugs that reduce gastric acid production (proton pump inhibitors) help if reflux disease or heartburn is the cause of the hiccups. In some cases, muscle-relaxing agents or active ingredients that promote emptying of the stomach are helpful. Sometimes medicines for epilepsy (antiepileptics) are also used.

Tips and home remedies for hiccups

There are countless home remedies and tips to get rid of the hiccups: some hold their breath or do a headstand, while others “breathe away” with concentration. Not every tip works for everyone. Find out what is the best way to deal with the hiccups. All tips have one goal, namely to calm the respiratory muscles.

The following home remedies and tips against hiccups are worth trying:

  • Think of a diversionary maneuver! For example, hold your breath, take three dry swallows, or answer various questions that will make you think. Like what you had for lunch the day before yesterday.

  • Swallow a tablespoon of cumin with some liquid.

  • Drizzle a few drops of apple cider vinegar on a sugar cube and suck it.

  • Brew a cup of fennel tea and sip it by the spoonful.

  • Drink a glass of water upside down! To do this, lean your torso over the edge of the sofa chair and sip water upside down through a straw.

  • A warm, damp belly wrap relaxes your abdominal muscles. To do this, soak a cloth in hot water and place the wrap on your upper abdomen for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Prevent hiccups: Tips that protect against hiccups

The best way to prevent acute hiccups is to eat slowly and eat small portions. Breathing calmly and evenly while eating can also help. Carbonated, cold drinks are also considered a possible cause. Still water, still fruit juice, or unsweetened tea that isn’t too cold may be a better alternative. In addition, reducing alcohol consumption can prevent hiccups.

Hiccups in babies: what helps?

Babies often hiccup after bottle feeding or breastfeeding. This is due to the not yet fully developed diaphragm muscles of the little ones. They often swallow air while drinking. These tips can help against hiccups in babies:

  • Burp after feeding.
  • With the bottle, care should be taken that the food is not too cold or too warm.
  • Gentle blowing in the baby’s face can normalize the breathing rhythm and relax the diaphragm.

Hiccups usually go away on their own, even in babies.


Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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