A hiccup is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. The involuntary action involves the reflex arc, which causes strong contractions of the diaphragm followed by closure of the vocal cords giving hiccups the classic “hic” sound.
Hiccups may present as a distracting or brief interruption in breathing with occasional momentary pain in the chest, abdomen, or throat.
Hiccups usually resolve on their own without the need for intervention. However, there are many home remedies that are available in an attempt to shorten the duration of hiccups. For chronic hiccups, medical treatment may be necessary.
Cause #1: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disorder where there is regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus resulting in heartburn, chest pain, bad breath, vomiting, esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal stricture. The risk factors of GERD include smoking, obesity, pregnancy, hiatal hernia, and use of medications such as depressants, antihistamines, or calcium channel blockers.
Hiccups can also occur in patients with GERD when there is irritation of the phrenic or vagus nerves that serve the diaphragm muscle. Treatment and management of GERD involves a healthy diet, weight loss, stopping smoking, and medications such as H2 receptor blockers, antacids, prokinetics, and protein pump inhibitors.