It is not uncommon for a sudden bout of hiccups to interrupt your after-meal relaxation. You may have finished your lunch and wanted to take a nap, but there it is! If the hiccups are often, you might even worry if anything serious is at hand. Do not worry! Hiccups are common and happen for various reasons.
The diaphragm is a muscle at the center of the lungs that assists you when you breathe. It contracts every time you breathe in. This expands the lungs and draws the air inside. Hiccups are involuntary contractions of this muscle.
When the diaphragm contracts, the vocal cords close. This prevents any uninvited air from entering. This is what causes you to hic! This action happens for many reasons. The way of eating, stress, stomach irritation, etc. can all cause it. If you wonder why you keep getting hiccups after eating and what are the ways to stop it, read on.
What Causes Hiccups After Eating?
Various things can cause your diaphragm and vocal cords to spasm. If they usually occur only after eating or drinking, they are not a cause for concern. Some of the reasons why they happen are:
Eating Quickly or Too Much
Your stomach sits below the diaphragm. When you eat too quickly, or too much, you swallow more air than usual. This causes the stomach to bloat. If it distends too much, it may push against your diaphragm. The diaphragm reacts by contracting, so you start having hiccups.
Consuming Certain Types of Food and Drinks
Chili pepper contains capsaicin that can stimulate spasms of the diaphragm. Drinking alcohol has a similar effect. Beer especially fills your belly with gas, which causes it to distend. Air bubbles from carbonated drinks bloat the stomach too. Drinking a lot of sparkling water, soda and other soft drinks can often cause hiccups.
Sudden Temperature Changes in The Esophagus
If the temperature in your esophagus suddenly changes, it may irritate the nerves. The stimulation of the nerves in the esophagus may cause the contraction of the diaphragm.
Try to avoid very cold drinks and very hot food. Eat less spicy and acidic food, too. Drinking alcoholic beverages can also stimulate the esophagus nerves. So, you shouldn’t be worried if you have hiccups after a couple of drinks.
Dry food is tough to chew and tough to swallow. It is common to swallow bigger chunks of bread, crackers, etc. They sometimes also stick to your throat. Then, you may have trouble swallowing it. The more air that you take in and the bigger pieces extend your stomach.
Emotional Stress or Excitement
When you’re stressed out, you sometimes feel the urge to inhale deeply. This and other emotional states make you swallow air. If you’re arguing or talking excitedly while eating, there’s a high possibility of you getting a lot of air in the stomach.
How to Make Hiccups Go Away?
Most hiccups will stop by themselves over time without any consequences. Once the belly starts deflating, the unpleasant hiccups should go away. Yet, there are methods that may stop them faster. Some of them are:
Holding Your Breath
Someone probably already told you this before. This is a tested method that many people use when they want their hiccups to go away. When you inhale deeply, you contract the diaphragm and stop the spasm. It may not work right away, but you should notice longer intervals between hiccups.
Control Your Breath
After you’ve finished eating, try to control your breath by inhaling and exhaling slowly. Try to breathe in as deeply as you can to make the diaphragm contract. When you exhale, get all the air out of your lungs, which relaxes your muscles.
Drink A Glass of Water
A glass of warm water may soothe the nerves that caused the contraction of the diaphragm in the first place.
Massage the Diaphragm
When you get hiccups after eating, you can try to massage your diaphragm. You may do this with circular hand movements over the edges of your ribs.
Hug Your Knees and Lean Forward
If you sit down and hold your knees as close to your chest as possible, you may stop the spasmodic diaphragm.
Trigger a Gag Reflex
If it isn’t too uncomfortable for you, you can use a finger to press the bottom of your tongue. This will cause a gag reflex and may stop the hiccups. It happens because gag reflex stimulates the nerves in the esophagus. These nerves, which are responsible for starting the hiccups, can also help to end it.
Bite on A Lemon
The taste of lemon may have a similar effect to inhaling deeply or triggering a gag reflex. This could soothe the nerves in the esophagus and stop the contractions of the diaphragm.
Can We Prevent Them?
Sometimes there is a way to prevent hiccups by being more careful and changing some eating habits. Unfortunately, there is no way to entirely get rid of them. They will catch you off-guard every now and then.
Some of the ways to prevent it are:
- Avoiding acidic food
- Avoiding alcohol
- Stop drinking carbonated beverages
- Eating slowly
- Eating reasonable portions of food
- Pay attention to not swallow air while chewing
- Avoid drinking very cold liquids
- Don’t talk while eating
This may not eliminate hiccups, but it should make them a rare occurrence. Most of the problems stem from eating habits. Paying attention to the way you eat should make you relax more easily afterward.
If you keep getting hiccups after eating that disappear quickly, there is no reason to worry. Other than being uncomfortable, they are harmless. If the hiccups occur often or wouldn’t stop, you may want to visit your doctor.
Just Enjoy Your Food
In conclusion, there is nothing revolutionary that you can do to prevent getting hiccups after a meal. The diaphragm involuntarily contracts from time to time and there are little things that you can do about it. Try to take your time and don’t talk too much when you eat. You can also avoid certain foods that may cause hiccups.
You may find that this will not only prevent hiccups. It will make you feel great as well!