Hiccups – Causes and Treatment

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Hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the opening between your vocal cords snaps shut to check the inflow of air and makes the hiccup sound. Irritation of the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest can cause hiccups.

Some of the causes of hiccups are as follows. Overstretching the neck, Laryngitis, Heartburn, Irritation of the eardrum, General anesthesia, Surgery, Bloating, Tumor, Infection, Diabetes, Drinking excessive alcohol, Hot and spicy food, Smoking, Eating fast.

The first two categories may prove effective for many short lived and minor cases of hiccups. For instance, with an assistant applying pressure to one’s ears, drinking any quantity of liquid whilst holding one’s nose is a common home remedy for hiccups. However, those suffering from an intractable case may become desperate sorting through various ineffective home remedies. Many of the cures centered around controlled breathing (i.e. holding breath) are often ineffective for prolonged hiccups crises, but do have a significant efficacy for the most casual, short lasting cases.

Home Care

There is no sure way to stop hiccups, but there are a number of common suggestions that may be effective:

Breathe repeatedly into a paper bag.
Drink a glass of cold water.
Eat a teaspoon of sugar.

Treatment

Everyone has a pet remedy for hiccups. A few tactics do make sense and may be based on physiology as well as folklore. One technique is to increase carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which may decrease the sensitivity of the vagus nerve in the brain. That nerve, one of the longest in the body, sends branches to many muscle groups, including those in the diaphragm. One can boost carbon dioxide levels by holding one’s breath, by rebreathing the air exhaled into a paper bag for a few minutes, or by slowly sipping a glass of water without pausing to take a breath.

For symptom relief, many simple measures can be tried, although none are more than slightly effective: PaCO2 can be increased and diaphragmatic activity can be inhibited by a series of deep breath-holds or by breathing deeply in to and out of a paper bag. (Caution: Plastic bags can cling to the nostrils and should not be used.) Vagal stimulation by pharyngeal irritation (eg, swallowing dry bread, granulated sugar, or crushed ice; applying traction on the tongue; stimulating gagging) may work. Numerous other folk remedies exist.

Numerous home remedies for hiccups exist. The reason that these remedies are thought to work is that carbon dioxide build-up in the blood will stop hiccups, which is what happens when you hold your breath. If the vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the stomach is stimulated, hiccups can also be alleviated (this is what is happening when you drink water or pull on your tongue).

The ash of a peacock feather is the best remedy in this condition. It is available at Ayurvedic stores by name Mayura Chandrika Bhasma. Cardamom is also useful, and the powder of one cardamom seed should be sucked with honey as required. Eladivati is the drug of choice in this condition in the dose of 1 to 2 tablets crushed and given with honey 4 to 6 times daily. Sukumar Ghritham can be given in the dose of 1 teaspoonful thrice daily with milk.