What causes hiccups in adults, symptoms and how to get rid of hiccups?

Have you ever experienced an awkward moment when you have to be formal and dignified, but you end up hiccupping like you are mad? Hiccups can come anywhere and anytime without giving a warning sign. Here, we will talk about what causes hiccups and how to get rid of hiccups?

What causes hiccups, its symptoms and how get rid of hiccups?

It is a very annoying occurrence that can spoil many special moments. Also, you will be tired of hiccupping continuously for a few minutes.

It is a sudden occurrence like a sneeze or a cough. But unlike them, hiccup doesn’t have any known physiologic advantages. Every time you begin hiccupping, people around you suggest how to get rid of hiccups. Trust me; each one has their own tips.

So, what are hiccups in reality?

Hiccups occur due to the irritation caused by the nerves that run from your brain through the lungs and stomach. This irritation will cause a sudden spasm resulting in hiccups.

When the Vagus nerve and the phrenic nerve are sending strong signals from the brain to the respiratory muscles, hiccups occur.

The external intercostal muscles and diaphragm contract, they cause a vigorous inhalation. Hiccups may also occur due to acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Sometimes, certain medications that you have been taking can also cause hiccups.

Hiccups occur as a reflex caused by sudden contraction of the diaphragm, which is the primary muscle used for inhalation.

It is a muscle under the lungs. When it contracts involuntarily, air rushes into lungs and stops suddenly by closing the vocal cords or glottis. This will result in the ‘hic’ sound. Hence, the name hiccups.

Hiccup is referred to as singultus by medical experts. It is a programmed muscle exercise. Even fetuses and premature infants hiccup. Once you grow, hiccups are useless. Hence, they occur only when there is irritation across the reflex arc.

Whatever the reason, one good thing about hiccups is that they vanish as easily as they come after a span of time. If you are not paying much attention, you wouldn’t even know when you stopped hiccupping.

Some people experience persistent hiccups for as long as months or even years. Such people must consult specialists for medical interference.


  • Slight tightening sensation in your throat and chest.
  • ‘Hic’ sound from your windpipe ranging 4 to 60 hiccups per minute.

If your hiccups are persistent, they will affect your food and drink habits, daily life, conversation, sleep, and concentration. This will result in frustration, insomnia, and sometimes fatal consequences like aspiration pneumonia.

What causes hiccups? and its risks

In most the cases, hiccup is a natural phenomenon that doesn’t have any ill-effects on the body. It lasts for a short time and then stops.

Some of the reasons for hiccups are –

  • Swollen stomach due to overeating.
  • Swallowing air.
  • Carbonated beverages.
  • Sudden excitement or emotional stress.
  • Alcohol and smoking.
  • Sudden change in stomach temperature.

Persistent hiccups usually last longer than 48 hours. They may be due to –

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Particular medications
  • Metabolic issues
  • Psychogenic disorders

Acute hiccups can be bothersome. Thankfully, there are many natural remedies that will ease your hiccups. Here are some home remedies for hiccups:

How get rid of hiccups naturally?

Stimulating the Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve irritation is the reason for the hiccups. It runs from brain to the stomach. Irritate your pharynx to stimulate the vagus nerve.

You can do this by sipping cold water, eating a spoonful of sugar, eating a spoon of honey in warm water or chewing on a lemon.

Relaxing the Diaphragm

Relax the diaphragm to stop the spasms causing hiccups. Retain the carbon dioxide by holding your breath for 10 seconds while you breathe into a paper bag.

This will increase the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in your blood and the diaphragm contract more to get more oxygen. This will rid hiccups.

Pull Your Knees to Your Chest

This is the oldest trick to cure hiccups. You will have to pull your knees to your chest. This will compress your chest and stop the contractions in the diaphragm that cause hiccups.

Also, try leaning forward to compress your chest. Breathe in and out deeply while you do so.

Valsalva maneuver

All you have to do is blow air out of your lungs for 10-15 seconds when you block your mouth and nose at the same time.

This will increase the tone of the vagus nerve and pressure in the throat and inner ear. This breathing technique is used to stop the arrhythmia.

But, it can also be used to stop hiccups by resetting the signals sent by the vagus nerve.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil stimulates belching by soothing the lower esophageal sphincter. Place one drop of the oil on the roof of the mouth.

This will stimulate the vagus nerve and cause a burp, stopping the hiccups. You can dilute the peppermint oil coconut or grapeseed oil. 

Acid Reflux Diet

Persistent hiccups can be caused due to acid reflux issues. With the hiccups, you will also experience heartburn, burping, dry mouth, bad breath and flatulence.

Rectify the mistakes with your digestive tract and the hiccups will vanish instantly.

You must begin to eat healthily and follow a diet regime. Eat good food, drinks lots of water and exercise regularly to avoid acid reflux problems.

Eat slowly and with a closed mouth. Chew your food well before swallowing it. It is better to eat many smaller meals throughout the day instead of only three large meals.

Use only unprocessed and organic foods. Increase fiber in your diet. Stay away from junk food and sweets. Foods that will reduce acid reflux and hiccups are – Leafy greens, free-range chicken, fruits, yogurt, coconut oil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and milk.

Reduce Stress

Lead a stress-free and happy life. Be calm and practice yoga. When you have hiccups, note down your feelings during that time.

If you were stressful, maybe it is stress that is causing the hiccups. Try meditation and healing prayer. Spend more time doing what you love. Stay away from alcohol and smoking.


Most of the times, hiccups are not a serious issue. It is not even taking into account as it comes and goes. Acute hiccups are not a big deal. But if you have persistent hiccups, you must consult a doctor for hiccups treatment. Hope you have got, what causes hiccups and how get rid of hiccups?



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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of www.medicinalplantsanduses.com. He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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