The Unexpected Beverage That Can Give You The Hiccups

The hiccups often catch you by surprise. You could be finishing a meal or just having a drink with friends, and suddenly the hiccups appear. During a hiccup, your diaphragm quickly contracts, which causes a short intake of air. Meanwhile, the glottis in the back of your throat closes, causing that "hic" sound (per Healthshots).

While some medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke, or GERD, could trigger persistent hiccups, scientists are baffled as to why short-term hiccups occur. Cleveland Clinic experts say that some believe the hiccups are caused by low carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Others speculate that the hiccups are caused by irritation of the vagus or phrenic nerve, which both tap into the diaphragm. In particular, eating something hot or spicy will irritate your phrenic nerve, which is near the esophagus, according to Medical News Today. Alcohol, carbonated beverages, and caffeinated drinks are also likely culprits that can give you hiccups (per Advocate Health Care). Therefore, a super hot cup of coffee could be stimulating your phrenic and vagus nerve enough to give you a case of the hiccups (per Greatist).

Hiccups are usually due to some irritation

While coffee or any other hot beverage might not give you hiccups every time (or at all), it's important to know that hiccups are mostly caused by a sudden change or irritation that your body hasn't anticipated, according to a 2012 article in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. A rapid change in the temperature of what you drink can stimulate the diaphragm and lead to hiccups. This can occur with both hot and cold food or drinks. For example, sipping a scalding hot drink or consuming ice-cold beverages can shock the system and provoke hiccups.

Overeating can cause hiccups because your stomach hasn't anticipated a large amount of food. Eating too fast can result in swallowing too much air, which can not only excessively fill the stomach but also irritate the phrenic nerve. Spicy foods like chili peppers can trigger hiccups because the spicy compounds can irritate the stomach lining and cause spasms in the diaphragm. The carbonation in some drinks can make the stomach distended and cause hiccups. Alcohol irritates the stomach and can often prompt hiccups.

Treating short-term hiccups

While you might have a go-to for your hiccups, the Cleveland Clinic has a few other ways to get rid of your hiccups that you can keep in store. Dissolving a teaspoon of sugar on your tongue or eating dry pieces of bread could alleviate the hiccups. You could also try pulling on your tongue, gargling water, or holding your breath.

The Farmers' Almanac has some unusual cures for the hiccups, such as tickling your nose with a feather until you sneeze. Here's one that's popular in the Ozarks, and it requires some balance. While standing on a single leg, say these words in the same breath: "Hick-up, stick-up, lick-up, hick-up." Repeat this five times. It's essentially the same as simply holding your breath. Rather than gargling water, cover a glass with a paper towel and drink water that way. Sometimes a diversion can ease your hiccups. If you know the Lord's Prayer (or any short passage) by heart, try saying it backwards to get your mind off the hiccups.