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Saturday, July 27, 2013

What Are Hiccups And What Causes Them?

What are hiccups?

 A hiccup, medically known as SDF (synchronous diaphragmatic flutter) or singultus, is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm which occurs at the same time as a contraction of the voice box (larynx) and total closure of the glottis, effectively blocking air intake. The glottis is the middle part of the larynx, where the vocal cords are located. Hiccups may also be spelled "hiccoughs".

Experts are not sure what causes hiccups and why we do them. Most agree that they are often triggered by minor stomach upsets. Sometimes, hiccups are said to have a psychological, rather than a physical cause - however, nobody really knows. In the majority of cases, hiccups resolve without any treatment within a few minutes. Hiccups, which can occur individually or in bouts, commonly happen rhythmically - the interval between each hiccup is relatively constant. Most people find them to be a minor nuisance. However, prolonged hiccups can became a serious medical problem and require treatment. Prolonged hiccups affect men much more than women. When attacks last longer than a month, the hiccups are termed intractable.

What are the causes of hiccups? 

 Experts are not sure what the mechanisms are that cause hiccups, or why they occur. According to studies and feedbacks we receive at Medical News Today, the following circumstances, conditions and illnesses have been associated with a higher risk of developing hiccups:

  •  Hot food has irritated the phrenic nerve. The phrenic nerve is near the esophagus.
  • When there is gas in the stomach, which presses against the diaphragm.
  • Too much food is eaten.
  • Food is eaten too rapidly.
  • There is a sudden change in temperature.
  • Fizzy drinks are consumed.
  • Some people get hiccups after eating spicy foods.
  • After eating dry breads.
  • Many people anecdotally report hiccups after consuming alcoholic beverages.
  •  Some medications, such as opiates, benzodiazepines, anesthesia, corticosteroids, barbiturates, and mythyldopa are known to cause hiccups.
  • Some medical conditions are linked to a higher incidence of hiccups, such as:
    •  gastrointestinal conditions, including IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), a small bowel obstruction, or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
    • respiratory conditions, such as pleurisy, pneumonia or asthma
    • conditions which affect the CNS (central nervous system), including a traumatic brain injury, encephalitis, a brain tumor, or stroke
    • conditions which irritate the vagus nerve, such as meningitis, pharyngitis or goitre
    • psychological reactions, including grief, excitement, anxiety, stress, hysterical behavior, or shock
    • conditions which affect metabolism, including hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, or diabetes
    • Often, hiccups occur unexpectedly and neither the patient nor the doctor can identify their likely cause.