Hiccups singultus causes and home remedies healing practice

Hiccups are usually harmless

A hiccup (medically "singultus") usually comes as a surprise and is usually inconvenient. For this, there is rarely a serious health problem behind the hiccups, so in most cases self-help measures from the field of natural medicine are sufficient to end the suffering. Some of the traditional home remedies, tips and tricks sound rather absurd at first – but trying them out can be worthwhile.

What causes hiccups?

Hiccups (singultus) are usually caused by irritation of the so-called phrenic nerve (diaphragmatic nerve). This is a spinal cord nerve that arises from the neck area and provides motor control to the diaphragm.

Hiccups are caused by irritation of the diaphragm. A completely natural reaction of the body, but most people are uncomfortable with the loud hiccups. (Image: BildPix.en/photolia.com)

If the nerve is irritated, the diaphragm, which is a large muscle suspended between the chest and abdomen, involuntarily contracts. Thereby we breathe in automatically, whereupon the vocal folds (vocal cords) close additionally. This is how the typical sound of hiccups occurs.

Mechanical and thermal causes

The cause of the hiccups is often irritation of the diaphragm or. of the associated nerve (phrenic nerve). This irritation can be of mechanical as well as thermal nature. Thus, excessively large meals, carbonated drinks, very hot or ice-cold water and hot spices can trigger the hiccups, as can external prere. Strong gas formation (flatulence) in the context of digestive disturbances can be causative. Often hasty eating or drinking. The associated "air swallowing" the reason for the discomfort. Those who drink a lot of alcohol and/or smoke heavily are also more susceptible. Not infrequently, hiccups are psychologically induced. Because stress, excitement, anxiety or sudden fright quickly lead to hectic, irregular breathing and thus to hiccups.

A common cause of hiccups is hasty "gulping" during eating. (Image: Drobot Dean/fotolia.com)

Hiccups due to diseases

More rarely, a more serious illness can be the trigger for the unpleasant hiccups. For example, the so-called reflux, an esophagitis, esophageal diverticula or inflammation in the area of the pharynx and larynx are considered.

Possible causes are gastroenteritis or gastritis (inflammation of the gastric mucosa); chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis can also be responsible for persistent hiccups. If there is also massive abdominal pain, there may be a (sometimes life-threatening) peritonitis, which requires medical treatment.

Diseases of the liver such as z.B. Hepatitis A can cause frequent hiccups. If the symptoms persist for a longer period of time, the cause may be a pathological enlargement of the abdominal aorta (abdominal aortic aneurysm). Other possible causes include metabolic and hormonal disorders such as diabetes mellitus (diabetes) or hyperthyroidism.

In some cases, hiccups are associated with an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which is colloquially known as a "goiter" or "thick neck". In this case, many sufferers report a feeling of having a lump in their throat, often accompanied by shortness of breath on exertion or certain head movements, hoarseness and problems swallowing.

In rarer cases, for example, hyperthyroidism or goiter may be responsible for the hiccups. (Image: Andrey Popov/fotolia.com)

Hiccups can be caused by diseases of the brain. If the functions of the cranial nerves are disturbed or damaged, this can affect the autonomic nervous system or the brain. affect the vagus and phrenic nerves. For example, meningitis, encephalitis or multiple sclerosis are possible causes. In addition, hiccups can be an important alarm signal for a stroke.

In rare cases, tumors in the ear and surrounding brain structures or growths in the throat are the reason for nerve irritation and resulting hiccups. Tumors in the abdomen and chest may (depending on where they are located) directly affect the diaphragm and phrenic nerve.

Swelling of the lymph nodes (z.B. by infectious diseases or Hodgkin's disease) in this area can also affect the phrenic nerve. Persistent hiccups may also indicate a brain tumor or. Daughter tumors from other regions of the body (metastases) indicate.

Hiccups caused by medication

In some cases, certain medications may be the cause of the discomfort. These include benzodiazepines, which are used as tranquilizers or hypnotics. Similarly, it is possible that anesthetics, antiepileptic drugs, drugs against Parkinson's disease and substances for the drug treatment of tumor diseases (chemotherapeutics) have hiccups as a side effect. The same applies, for example, to psychotropic drugs with antipsychotic, sedative and psychomotor depressant effects (neuroleptics) and cortisone preparations (glucocorticoids).

If the hiccups seem to be getting worse or worse, you should try to avoid them. If hiccups occur more frequently in connection with taking medication, a discussion should be held with the doctor treating the patient as soon as possible.
Attention: If you have to take medication regularly, do not stop taking it on your own and do not change anything in the prescribed use in order not to run any health risks. Always get advice from your doctor first.

First aid: Home remedies for hiccups

There are various home remedies for acute hiccups, which often sound a bit strange at first glance. But many of the applications actually cause the hiccups to stop again. This is because the little tricks cause the focus to be diverted from the hiccups and the person concentrates on the exercise. Breathing calms down, allowing the diaphragm to relax again and the hiccups to disappear.

Even if there is no remedy that is guaranteed to drive away the hiccups – just try out several methods. It is important to breathe slowly and regularly so that your breathing can relax again and the hiccups disappear. Take a deep breath and hold it for 20 to 30 seconds, this allows the diaphragm to stabilize in the inhalation position and gives it a moment to calm down.

Tips against hiccups are, for example, holding your breath or drinking ice-cold water. (Image: Tran-Photography/fotolia.com)

In many cases, apple cider vinegar offers quick help by taking a teaspoon of it undiluted. Similarly, drinking lemon juice, biting into a slice of lemon, or letting an ice cube melt slowly in the mouth may be useful. Alternatively, let a piece of sugar cube melt in your mouth or eat slowly a teaspoonful of sugar.

In some cases, drinking a glass of cold, still water in quick, small sips can banish the hiccups. However, cold drinks and food can also cause hiccups.

Some experts advise sticking out the tongue or pulling on it. Because in the course of this, breathing automatically changes, which has a relaxing effect on the diaphragm and the body as a whole.

Chew a clove to bring the irritated diaphragm to rest again. Inhaling a small amount of pepper through the nose can have a soothing effect. Because the sneezing thus produced is basically nothing more than an "explosive" exhalation, through which the breathing is rebalanced and, in the best case, the hiccups are expelled.

Dill weed (Anethum graveolens) is often recommended as a medicinal plant in naturopathy for hiccups, as it contains antispasmodic agents and accordingly helps above all when the hiccups are due to a digestive disorder. The seeds of the herb can be chewed, alternatively, it is possible to prepare a medicinal tea with the leaves.

In general, be careful not to drink too hastily and not to gulp when eating. Take your time, eat slowly and chew each bite thoroughly ("fletching"). Refrain from eating and talking at the same time, and always try to speak as slowly and quietly as possible.

Avoid very cold, very hot or very spicy dishes (with chili, Tabasco etc.) as well as alcohol and nicotine on an empty stomach. Avoid carbonated drinks such as beer, sparkling wine or cola (especially if you're having a big meal) and instead drink still water o.a.

Shame increases the hiccups

Many people are very uncomfortable with hiccups in public because they are conspicuous or fear being considered "childish" or "tipsy. But fear and shame further complicate the situation, as these emotions cause stress and upset the respiratory system even more. As a result, the hiccups may not go away, and may even get worse.

Tip: So try not to frantically suppress the hiccups or hide them in embarrassment. Instead, consider the hiccup for what it is – an involuntary and natural reaction of the body that can occur in anyone, at any time. Take it with humor, stay calm and try to use little tricks to get the breathing back to normal.

If the hiccup lasts longer, suddenly occurs more frequently than usual, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as z.B. If the hiccups are accompanied by abdominal pain or dizziness, you should urgently consult a doctor. (Image: bnenin/fotolia.com)

When to see a doctor for hiccups?

In most cases, the hiccups are annoying but harmless and disappear after a while. However, if you notice certain signs, you should be vigilant and consult a doctor as a precaution to get to the bottom of the cause.

Go to the doctor if:

– you are affected by hiccups very often, – they suddenly occur more frequently than usual, – they do not disappear but last longer, z.B. Continues throughout the day, – Other symptoms such as z.B. chronic fatigue, constant belching, abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn or a swollen throat occur.

Attention: If, parallel to the hiccups, suddenly short-lasting signs of paralysis appear or. numbness, speech and/or vision problems, extremely severe headaches, dizziness, unsteady gait or balance problems, you must immediately call 911 at the
Phone number 112 to be weaned. Because in this case it may be a warning sign of a stroke.

Hiccups in babies

Even before birth, babies in their mothers' wombs deal with hiccups. For the unborn child, the reflex is helpful in exercising the respiratory muscles, since amniotic fluid cannot flow in through the closed glottis. Hiccups also have a valuable function after birth, as the reflex ensures that breast milk does not get into the lungs during drinking. In adults, however, the hiccups no longer serve any biological purpose.

What to do about hiccups in children? Hiccups in babies basically represent only a protective reflex of the body. Is therefore not normally a cause for concern. On the contrary, the hiccups have a biological purpose and are neither painful nor unpleasant for the child. Accordingly, it is not absolutely necessary to do something about it.

If you still want to help your child get rid of hiccups, z.B. because it does not help it to sleep, you can try different ways. Important is, however, that most of the known tricks and home remedies for adults must not be used on babies under any circumstances. Parents should therefore never try to alleviate the hiccups by holding their child's nose, for example, or by scaring them.

For babies, hiccups can be relieved by having them burp after each meal. (Image: S.Kobold/fotolia.com)

It can be helpful if you let your child burp after every meal. To do this, pick your child up so that his or her head is resting on your shoulder and gently pat the baby's back. Since physical closeness has a calming effect on the child, holding him in your arms can also help outside of mealtimes. Supportively, you can blow gently in the child's face to distract him and change his breathing rhythm.

To relieve the hiccups through relaxation, it can help if you sing to your child, stroke him or gently massage the soles of his feet. Offer the baby something to drink by putting him on briefly resp. give him the bottle.

Since hiccups can also be caused by thermal influences, make sure your child is dressed warmly enough. A cherry stone or grain pillow can also provide soothing and relaxing warmth when placed on the baby's stomach.

Important: Before using a heat pad, always check with the back of your hand or on your cheek to make sure it is the right temperature. If it is still too warm, let it cool down first.

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