Hiccups occur when a spasm contracts the diaphragm, a large sheet of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. This spasm causes an intake of breath that is suddenly stopped by the closure of the vocal cords (glottis). This closure causes the characteristic “hiccup” sound.
Hiccups affect males more often than females. Hiccups occur in practically every human being, including babies and older adults.
A very full stomach can cause bouts of hiccups that go away on their own. A full stomach can be caused by:
- Eating too much food too quickly
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Swallowing too much air
- A sudden change in stomach temperature, such as drinking a hot beverage and then a cold beverage
- Emotional stress or excitement