Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What should I do if the hiccups won?t go away?"
I?ve had the hiccups for a day and a half. I don?t know what is happening because I never had this problem before. Something wrong with my stomach muscles? It is so annoying!
Hiccups that won't stop can be very, very aggravating! Hopefully yours will stop soon. Hiccups are actually caused by involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, the muscle that helps separate your abdomen from your chest cavity and also helps with the expansion of the lungs when you take a deep breath. There are many things that can trigger the occasional hiccup, including alcohol, a particularly large meal, any kind of significant excitement or other emotional stress, or even carbonated beverages. However, these kinds of hiccups usually don't last for more than a few minutes at most. Hiccups that last for hours to days, such as the ones you describe, are usually caused by a different set of things, including underlying nerve damage/irritation to the vagus nerve that helps the diaphragm contract; a metabolic disorder affecting electrolytes; medications (including steroids or sedatives); or an underlying problem with the central nervous system that is manifesting as inappropriate activation of the vagus nerve. Because your symptoms have been going on for an extended period of time, the best thing for you to do is see your primary care physician right away. He or she can do a more detailed history and exam to see if you have any other symptoms or physical exam findings that might suggest an underlying cause for chronic hiccups. There are some medications that can he helpful in terminating hiccups, so after examining you to make sure there are no other worrisome signs, your doctor can likely prescribe something to help make your hiccups go away!
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