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What is causing hiccups?

Hiccup is a sudden closure of your vocal cord for a brief period of time. This forceful and sudden closure is what makes that sound you hear during the hiccup. Hiccup is caused when the muscle between our chest and abdomen contracts. This muscle is called the diaphragm . It's this muscle that draws air into and out of the lungs. When this muscle contracts suddenly, the resulting effect is hiccups.

When the diaphragm contracts suddenly, lots of air are pulled up into the lungs and back of the throat suddenly, this is what cause the hiccup


Hiccups occur when the diaphragm (the muscle separating the lung and abdominal cavities that plays an important role in breathing) starts to involuntarily contract, causing a rapid closing of the vocal cords. There are many relatively minor causes of short-term hiccups, but there are also some serious causes of persistent hiccups, including nerve damage and brain injury.


Hiccups most commonly arise when the stomach expands and stomach acid moves into the esophagus. Other common causes of short-term hiccups include drinking carbonated beverages, consuming too much food, eating too quickly, consuming spicy food and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Also sudden changes in temperature and emotional stress or excitement are common causes of hiccups.


The most common cause of hiccups that persist for more than 48 hours is irritation of the nerves of the diaphragm, specifically the vagus or phrenic nerves. These nerves can become irritated if a hair or other object inside of the ear touches the eardrum. They may also become irritated or damaged by illness or disease, including a tumor, cyst or goiter in the neck region. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition in which digestive juices or bile flows back into the esophagus, can irritate the nerves of the diaphragm. Pneumonia, sore throat or laryngitis (an inflammation of the voice box due to a virus, damage or overuse) can also damage the vagus or phrenic nerves and induce hiccups.


Serious causes of hiccups include diseases that damage the "hiccup center" of the brain, the area responsible for regulating the hiccup reflex. Stroke, tumors, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and encephalitis (an acute inflammation of the brain commonly caused by a virus) can all cause chronic hiccups. Meningitis, a swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi, can also damage the brain and lead to uncontrollable hiccups.


The Mayo Clinic advises that metabolic disorders such as diabetes that interfere with the body's ability to make and use energy may lead to hiccups. Kidney failure, electrolyte imbalances (too much or too little potassium, sodium or calcium in the bloodstream), along with certain drugs like steroids, alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers and anesthesia, may also induce hiccups. Other potential causes of hiccups include abdominal surgery or noxious fumes. In some cases, there may be no apparent cause for hiccups.