Hiccups are an involuntary repeated contraction of the diaphragm combined with closure of the glottis. This reflex produces a characteristic sound.
Causes of hiccups
The causes of hiccups are very often unknown. Nevertheless, they are occasionally associated with alcohol use, pregnancy, etc. They are, however, usually caused by a gastro-intestinal or neurological problem.
Treatment of hiccups
Hiccups generally disappear as quickly as they begin. In this situation, medical treatment is not required although old wives remedies are often tried to increase carbon dioxide in the arterial blood (hypercapnoea) although their effectiveness leaves something to be desired.
In more severe cases, hiccups may last for several hours and recur very regularly. Occasional pathological cases have even lasted for several years. It is then important to establish the cause in order to be able to treat it and stop the hiccups. If the cause is not established, muscle relaxants may be given as treatment.
The cause of hiccups is often unclear. © DR