a woman with hiccups

What Causes Hiccups?

If you've ever suffered from "synchronous diaphragmatic flutter," you know how irritating hiccups can be. In the midst of a bout of hiccups, you may have found yourself wondering, "What exactly are hiccups and what causes them?"

Hiccups are the result of a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. This occurs at the same time as the contraction of the larynx (voice box) and the glottis (where the vocal cords are located) to completely close, all of which results in blocking air intake momentarily.

Though the logistics of what happens when we hiccup is easily explained, the why is a little harder to pin down. This question is still stumping scientists today. Some scientists believe that hiccups are triggered by the stomach being upset in a small way. However, others think that hiccups have more of a psychological cause rather than a physical one. Hiccups seem to be triggered by a variety of very different foods, drinks, and activities, so finding a common link between them all is nearly impossible. Thankfully, most bouts of hiccups last for only a few minutes, never long enough to make figuring out the exact cause a huge concern.

Last Updated: May 06, 2015

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