• By Jeff Olsen

Mayo Clinic Minute: What causes hiccups?

October 5, 2018

Faking hiccups – including the "hic" sound – is pretty easy. Getting rid of the real ones can be difficult.

"It’s all an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, followed by closure of the vocal cords that leads to that characteristic sound," explains Dr. Mark V. Larson, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.

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Dr. Larson says most hiccup triggers are associated with temporary bloating of the stomach.

"That might be overeating or rapidly eating," he says.

Gulping down big drinks – especially carbonated ones – can also cause hiccups. Even being suddenly excited or scared can cause that repetitive involuntary contraction of the diaphragm.

"Most people who experience hiccups will do so for only a very short period of time, usually less than a minute or two," Dr. Larson explains. "Rarely, hiccups can last for days or even months. That may be a clue that there is an underlying medical condition."

As for halting the hiccups, Dr. Larson suggests simple remedies, such as holding your breath, gargling or simply sipping cold water.

"Do something that interrupts the activity of the diaphragm," Dr. Larson adds.

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