Hiccups are among the mysteries of our body that haven’t been entirely solved yet.
While they are caused because of involuntary contractions of our diaphragm, the popular sound of a hiccup is a result of our vocal cords closing in just after.
Generally, hiccups don’t last much longer but when they last more than 48 hours, it becomes a matter of concern.
While hiccups can be caused by something like drinking a lot of soda to get excited, chronic hiccups can point towards the presence of an underlying issue.
When your hiccups last somewhere from between 48 hours to 30 days, they are known to be persistent and when they exceed 30 days, they are known to be intractable.
Following are some of the health issues that might be lead to chronic hiccups:
1. Nerve problems
Since hiccups are a result of contractions of the diaphragm, any irritation or damage in the diaphragm or on the vagus or phrenic nerves can lead to the problem of hiccups. These nerves are connected to the diaphragm and therefore, can influence your hiccups. Various factors can lead to the irritation of those nerves like:
- Tickling sensation on your eardrums because of dirt or hair
- A tumour building on your neck
- Throat ache or laryngitis
- Acid reflux
2. Nervous system diseases
Since hiccups occur because of complex systems involving our central and peripheral nervous systems, any kind of infection or problem affecting the nervous system may also reflect in our chronic hiccups. Any malfunctioning in the brain can also lead to hiccups as the brain controls breathing. Some disorders which might result in hiccups are:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain injury
- Disorders like encephalitis and meningitis
- Stroke and brain tumours
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brainstem seizures
3. Gastrointestinal problems
Any problem related to your stomach, gut, intestine, liver or pancreas can result in hiccups. General causes of hiccups many times involve eating and drinking issues like drinking too much soda, overeating, eating at a fast pace or even sucking a candy, thus, hiccups as a result of problems involving our stomach can be expected. Here are some of the diseases that can cause hiccups:
- Stomach ulcers
- Crohn’s disease
4. Metabolic problems and medications
Underlying issues of the body can manifest themselves in the form of hiccups. Many times, certain drugs or medications also trigger hiccups as a side effect. Some of them can be listed below:
- Kidney disorders
- Steroids and tranquilizers
- Drugs used in chemotherapy
- Imbalance in the levels of sodium and potassium in our blood
5. Surgical procedures
Many surgeries which involve the areas of our body which may trigger a hiccup response, might actually turn out to trigger one after the operation. Surgeries involving our nervous system, brain, gastrointestinal areas or diaphragm may accidentally trigger this response.
6. Cardiovascular problems
Hiccups can also be a result of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and inflammation. They can also act as warning signs of a heart attack. Apart from that, cancer can also be an underlying cause of chronic hiccups.
7. Emotional distress
As hiccups can be triggered just as easily as being excited, they can also be triggered by our exact opposite emotions. Emotional distress in the form of anxiety or depression can also result in hiccups.
While these can be the probable causes of your chronic hiccups, you would still need to consult with a doctor to confirm which one it could be. As the reason can range from something like overeating to something like cancer, to be sure which one it is, you would need a doctor who could tell you the reason behind your hiccups by evaluating your condition.